back to article Qualcomm to demand US iPhone import ban

Qualcomm is considering asking for an import ban on iPhones coming into the United States in retaliation for Apple stopping royalty payments to the chip designer. According to "a person familiar with the company's strategy," Qualcomm will formally ask the US International Trade Commission to stop the iPhone, which is made in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a statement last week, Apple also told The Register

    Wait, what?

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: In a statement last week, Apple also told The Register

      I thought apple perma banned the reg ?

      1. MrDamage

        Re: In a statement last week, Apple also told The Register

        New intern in Apple's media centre. Fret not, they will be beaten with Steve Jobs' biography until they learn the correct behaviour.

    2. Haku

      Re: In a statement last week, Apple also told The Register

      First Brexit, then Trump, now Apple are talking to El Reg.

      Are these markers for the beginning of judgement day?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    Wow. Abusing patents.

    Almost like someone decided to use the Apple playbook against them. Or something.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Wow. Abusing patents.

      "But [Apple's] main argument at the ITC will likely revolve around how the Qualcomm patents at issue are now effectively an industry standard and so should be treated differently."

      Assuming these are Standards Essential Patents (SEP) then they need to be licensed in a FRAND way. This is the only way they have to be treated differently, but the key point is that to be able to sell a phone in today's markets, you have to implement those patents in that phone, and so a royalty is due. The fact that they are essential means that the royalty rate must be fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory, so Apple will no doubt need to demonstrate that the agreement that they signed several years ago isn't in line with FRAND principles.

      1. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Wow. Abusing patents.

        <i>The fact that they are essential means that the royalty rate must be fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory, so Apple will no doubt need to demonstrate that the agreement that they signed several years ago isn't in line with FRAND principles</i>

        Perhaps the agreement is fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory across all licensees, all paying the same price and following the same conditions, and only Apple is fighting that price. If all licensees were acting together to fight the price would they not then be a cartel, or otherwise be engaging in anti-competitive practices by acting in concert?

  3. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The Gods are at war again...

    This reminds me of a Ray Harryhausen movie where the gods punish humans as a matter of course, part of their little spats with one another, like a bunch of babies that didn't get the right kind of rattle when demanded. or something like that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Gods are at war again...

      so not allowing consumers to spend $1200 plus $150/month usage fees for the latest Cupertino shiny walled garden is punishment?

      I've been punished all these years and didn't even know it

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: The Gods are at war again...

        $1200 plus $150/month?!?!?

        The absolute newest iPhone 7 starts at $649 plus tax, and that's free and clear with no contract. On contract from $32/month, no upfront cost. The most expensive iPhone you can currently buy is $979, again free and clear. For the interested, this is nigh-on exactly the same cost as the Galaxy S8.

        This is how fake news becomes - well, news. Because people like you just make shit up.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: The Gods are at war again...

          Don't forget the Google Pixel. That appears to be exactly the same price as the iPhone 7 here in the UK.

          Apple is not alone in selling expensive 'shiny-shiny' phones but don't let the facts get in the way of a good bit of fake news.

          If it is not fake then please give us a link to an Apple dealer who is selling an iToy at $1200.

          1. I'm not here
            Holmes

            Re: The Gods are at war again...

            I agree that the OP would have been helpful in providing a source, here is my attempt.

            From the Apple website in the United States (http://www.apple.com):

            iPhone 7 Plus 256GB Gold: $969.00

            AirPods: $159.00

            Tax (Chinatown,San Francisco) $95.88

            Total: $1223.88

            From AT&T (http://www.att.com)

            AT&T 30GB / month: $135 ( + monthly access charge $20)

            AirPods aren't absolutely necessary, unless you want to listen to music, etc. The example is 'top-end', and I guess isn't the average users bill, still... it shows how much one can spend if one is determined.

            1. JetSetJim Silver badge

              Re: The Gods are at war again...

              > From the Apple website in the United States (http://www.apple.com):

              > iPhone 7 Plus 256GB Gold: $969.00

              Or buy it in the UK, where it is £919, aka $1,189.20 at today's exchange rate :), which is near enough to $1200 for my maths, and that's before accessories and Apple (Doesn't) Care

              1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

                Re: The Gods are at war again...

                The OP stated that an iPhone costs $1200 PLUS $150/month. This is bullshit. The most expensive iPhone in the Apple Store may cost $1200 if you spec it to the max and buy some extra bits, but it's not then going to cost you $150/month, is it?? It's a free and clear, no obligation, SIM-free handset which you can put a $5 Prepaid card in if you like.

                OR

                You can pay $150/month, then you get the iPhone for 'free'. But it's not both.

                1. JetSetJim Silver badge

                  Re: The Gods are at war again...

                  Damn contracts are cheap here - struggling to find anything more than £65/mo for unlimited everything.

                  AT&T do a $145/mo, but it's for 2 lines, so a bit of a cheat:

                  https://www.att.com/plans/unlimited-data-plans.html

                  Otherwise it's a measly $90/mo for 1 line.

                  Obviously you don't have to have that plan, too.

                2. I'm not here

                  Re: The Gods are at war again...

                  The AT&T plan is the "Mobile Share Advantage(SM) plan", 10 phones can share the Plan, but there is no obligation to have 10 on the plan:

                  https://www.att.com/shop/wireless/data-plans.html

                  A footnote on the page states:

                  "MOBILE SHARE ADVANTAGE: Prices are for service only and include monthly plan charge and per device monthly access charge. Devices: 10 per plan. Purchase additional."

                  All I was attempting to do was say it is possible to pay that amount, thus it wasn't necessarily 'fake news'. The price, for me, looks eye-watering and sounds bonkers, but then someone must be buying these plans, otherwise why would AT&T offer them?

            2. JCDenton

              Re: The Gods are at war again...

              AirPods aren't necessary at all. Just use any Bluetooth headset.

          2. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: The Gods are at war again...

            "If it is not fake then please give us a link to an Apple dealer who is selling an iToy at $1200."

            Every single Apple dealer will be more than happy to do that. And make a few hundred dollars profit.

        2. taxythingy

          Re: The Gods are at war again...

          They probably need to go to The Derek Zoolander School for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too.

          You can easily spend $1,200 NZD on a base model iPhone 7 (~$800 USD), OR you can spend $120 a month on your contract for 2 years. Reference: www.vodafone.co.nz

          1. taxythingy

            Re: The Gods are at war again...

            Remember kids, you must include the currency ID, particularly when talking about Dollars and Pesos, as they otherwise will be assumed to belong to Zimbabwe and Britain.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: The Gods are at war again...

      Relationship status: it's... complicated.

  4. Doc Ock

    Is there a scenario in which both sides lose as I can't root for either of them regarding a patent dispute.

  5. DougS Silver badge

    Motorola tried the same thing with Apple

    And when they sued Microsoft. Both over FRAND patents, where they were trying to charge based on the sales price of the device they were in, rather than the chip(s) that implemented the patents. The ITC told them to go pound sand. Qualcomm won't have any different luck with this tactic.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Motorola tried the same thing with Apple

      Don't know as it's that cut and dried - from the article, QC and Apple have had an agreement for a quite a while and now Apple are saying that they don't like it so they're not going to pay it any more. Try doing that with other things (e.g. rent payments on a flat, which I appreciate is a completely different kettle of fish) and you get handed your arse.

      QC may well be arguing "well, 5 years ago you thought the agreement was FRAND, so go suck lemons".

      On the other hand, these are statements from mouthpieces, so who knows what is the Truth (TM) and what is FRAND (if indeed the patent in question is a SEP one, although that's quite likely)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Motorola tried the same thing with Apple

        I read somewhere (so it might not be true) that Apple wanted to stop using QC devices but QC still wanted payment from Apple because the Intel chips used their patents.

        It all gets a bit murky but IMHO, QC have a bit of a nerve trying to base their royalties on the price of the end product.

        Imagine if Ford (for example) put a QC 3G/4G modem in their latest F-150. Would QC want a payment based upon the say $20K selling price of the F-150?

        Also the issue of double dipping has raised its head again. QC charges Foxconn to use theit chips in devices it maked for Apple etc and then charges the end user company, in this case Apple again for usint those chips.

        IANAL etc but this was all discussed many years ago on www.groklaw.net.

        Posting AC because my employer also uses QC devices and is looking at this case very keenly.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: Motorola tried the same thing with Apple

          > It all gets a bit murky but IMHO, QC have a bit of a nerve trying to base their royalties on the price of the end product.

          IANAL, but the phone industry boils down to:

          Manufacturer A uses a chip in a phone that t can only convince punters to fork out a 10% margin for (i.e. costs £100 to make, including all costs of business operations, sale price of £110)

          Manufacturer B can use the same chip to get a 40% margin for arguably the exact same product

          Should the royalty rate for manufacturers A and B be the same absolute value (e.g. 2cents/phone) for a SEP, or should it be based on the value of the product being sold that contains the IPR? I'm sure there are very good arguments on both sides of this conundrum.

          OTOH, Apple do have a bit of a history of ignoring IPR of others (or bullying their way through it), and abusing their own IPR (rounded corners et al.)

  6. Drefsab_UK

    Im kind of siding with qualcomm on this one.

    If I made a product that used an apple paitent, for years I them the agreed royaly fees (same as everyone else). Me wanting to make more money keep asking them to lower the price year after year with apple saying no each time. If after a few years I decided oh well I just wont pay them though but will keep using their technology/patents anyway do you think apple would be ok with that? No they would say find stop using our tech and you can stop paying if you use it you pay for it.

    Funny how thats how I read the current situation. If they wanted out of those terms fine, build the next ithing without qualcomm tech and dont pay them for it. Simple.

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