In July 2017, Qualcomm filed suit against Apple in San Diego federal court, accusing the iPhone maker of infringing on six U.S. patents related to graphics processing architecture, power consumption, and envelope tracking technologies. Nearly two years later, the case is finally headed to trial.
The trial begins today with jury selection, with proceedings expected to take up to two weeks. It will be the first time a U.S. jury is involved in the major legal battle between the two companies, according to Bloomberg.
Qualcomm has countersued, alleging that its "innovations are at the heart of every iPhone" and "enable the most important uses and features of those devices," adding that it "simply is untrue that Qualcomm is seeking to collect royalties for Apple innovations that have nothing to do with Qualcomm's technology."
Last week, analysts at investment bank Barclays said that Qualcomm is seemingly "running out" of time to reach a settlement with Apple if it wants to win 5G modems orders for the first 5G-enabled iPhones, expected in 2020.
Ahead of the closures, Apple faces yet more patent litigation in the district. A group of limited liability companies under the Optis Wireless Technology, LLC umbrella filed suit against Apple on Monday in East Texas, accusing the company of infringing on a portfolio of seven patents related to LTE standards.
Optis Wireless and the other plaintiffs named in the complaint appear to be non-practicing entities that aim to generate revenue through patent litigation. These type of companies are commonly referred to as patent trolls.
The complaint, seen by MacRumors, alleges that all LTE-enabled Apple products, including various iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch models, infringe on the LTE patents. Optis Wireless and the other plaintiffs acquired many of the patents from Ericsson, Samsung, LG, and Panasonic — read the full complaint [PDF] for the exact patents.
The plaintiffs state that, not later than January 6, 2017, they sent Apple correspondence in an effort to license their essential patents to Apple on FRAND terms. The plaintiffs also allege meeting with Apple representatives on numerous occasions, but the parties did not reach a licensing agreement.
The plaintiffs are seeking "recovery of damages at least in the form of reasonable royalties" and have demanded a jury trial.
Last August, in the same court, a jury decided that Huawei willfully infringed many of the same LTE patents being asserted against Apple. The Chinese smartphone maker was ordered to pay $10.6 million in damages.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Apple's former vice president of corporate law Gene Levoff with insider trading, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey on Tuesday.
The complaint alleges that Levoff traded on material nonpublic information about Apple's earnings three times during 2015 and 2016, avoiding losses of approximately $382,000, according to CNBC. Levoff also reportedly committed insider trading at least three additional times in 2011 and 2012.
CNBC reports that Levoff had inside access to not-yet-public earnings results and briefings on iPhone sales. In its complaint, the SEC alleged he purchased Apple shares and then profited when the stock rose after positive earnings reports, and likewise sold shares prior to weaker earnings reports.
New York resident Jay Brodsky has filed a frivolous class action lawsuit against Apple, alleging that the company's so-called "coercive" policy of not letting customers disable two-factor authentication beyond a two-week grace period is both inconvenient and violates a variety of California laws.
The complaint alleges that Brodsky "and millions of similarly situated consumers across the nation have been and continue to suffer harm" and "economic losses" as a result of Apple's "interference with the use of their personal devices and waste of their personal time in using additional time for simple logging in."
In a support document, Apple says it prevents customers from turning off two-factor authentication after two weeks because "certain features in the latest versions of iOS and macOS require this extra level of security":
If you already use two-factor authentication, you can no longer turn it off. Certain features in the latest versions of iOS and macOS require this extra level of security, which is designed to protect your information. If you recently updated your account, you can unenroll for two weeks. Just open your enrollment confirmation email and click the link to return to your previous security settings. Keep in mind, this makes your account less secure and means that you can't use features that require higher security.
The complaint is riddled with questionable allegations, however, including that Apple released a software update around September 2015 that enabled two-factor authentication on Brodsky's Apple ID without his knowledge or consent. Apple in fact offers two-factor authentication on an opt-in basis.
Brodsky also claims that two-factor authentication is required each time you turn on an Apple device, which is false, and claims the security layer adds an additional two to five minutes or longer to the login process when it in fact only takes seconds to enter a verification code from a trusted device.
The complaint goes on to allege that Apple's confirmation email for two-factor authentication enrollment containing a "single last line" alerting customers that they have a two-week period to disable the security layer is "insufficient."
Brodsky accuses Apple of violating the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, California's Invasion of Privacy Act, and other laws. He, on behalf of others similarly situated, is seeking monetary damages as well as a ruling that prevents Apple from "not allowing a user to choose its own logging and security procedure." Read the full document.
FISI, described by Apple as a patent assertion entity formed for the sole purpose of generating revenue through patent litigation, acquired a portfolio of charging-related patents from BlackBerry that it has asserted against several tech giants, including LG, Samsung, and Huawei, who are now listed as FISI licensees.
Apple believes it could be sued next and is seeking a declaration of non-infringement in advance, according to the complaint:
Defendants have claimed, through letters, claim charts, telephone calls and in-person meetings with Apple personnel in this District, that certain Apple products infringe the Patents-in-Suit and that Apple requires a license to the Patents-in-Suit. However, Apple's products do not infringe the Patents-in-Suit.
This Court should not allow the threat of a future lawsuit to harm and cause uncertainty to Apple's business.
The former BlackBerry patents generally relate to USB-based charging protocols, systems, and methods dating back to the early 2000s.
Apple believes none of its products violate the patents, including its power adapters. One of Apple's consistent defenses throughout its complaint is that its devices and power adapters rely on its proprietary Lightning connector rather than adhering to the USB 2.0 protocols described in the patents.
Apple has demanded a jury trial in the U.S. District Court of Northern California. Beyond a declaration of non-infringement, Apple is seeking legal fees and any other relief which Apple may be entitled to as deemed appropriate by the court.
California resident Monica Emerson has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple this week, accusing the company of releasing iOS updates which were "specifically designed and programmed to reject, starting on November of 2016, old iPhone chargers from properly charging the iPhones."
The complaint, obtained by MacRumors, alleges that Emerson bought an iPhone 7 in September 2016 and charged the device with Apple's power adapter included in the box without issue until around October 2017, when it stopped working alongside the alert "this accessory may not be supported."
In or around October 2017, Plaintiff attempted to use her Apple Charger and received a message that read "This accessory may not be supported." Thus, requiring that people buy a new charger for her iPhone. Upon learning this, Plaintiff felt ripped off, cheated, and violated by Defendant.
The alert is part of Apple's system that aims to protect iOS devices against potentially dangerous aftermarket accessories.
Emerson believes the alert forced her and thousands of other customers in her situation to buy new chargers, with total claims exceeding $5 million. As a result, she is suing Apple for damages, accusing the company of false advertising, unfair business practices, fraud, and other violations of California laws.
Emerson supposedly always used Apple's first-party charger, but it's unclear whether it was connected to the iPhone with an Apple-certified Lightning to USB cable under the Made for iPhone program. If she was using an Apple power adapter with an uncertified cable, then the message was correctly displayed.
While it's hard to believe that Apple released an iOS update that prevented its own chargers from working—it simply doesn't make sense—there have been scattered complaints of the "this accessory may not be supported" system throwing false positives for Apple-certified chargers and cables over the years.
False positives can occur for a variety of reasons, including something as simple as a dirty pin on the Lightning connector.
Emerson is seeking a jury trial in the U.S. District Court for Central California.
The proposed lawsuit seeks compensation for all Canadians who used FaceTime on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 12.1 or later, or a Mac running macOS Mojave 10.4.1 or later, in their possession.
This is the first pending class action lawsuit against Apple we know of in relation to the FaceTime bug. An earlier lawsuit filed by a lawyer in Houston, who claimed the bug allowed an unknown person to listen in on sworn testimony, did not seek class action status according to the court document we reviewed.
Due to the serious privacy implications of the FaceTime bug, there may be more class action lawsuits to follow in the United States and elsewhere.
Widely publicized on Monday, the FaceTime bug allowed one person to call another person via FaceTime, slide up on the interface and enter their own phone number, and automatically gain access to audio from the other person's device without that person accepting the call. In some cases, even video was accessible.
We recorded a demonstration of the bug earlier this week:
Pennsylvania-based entity Rembrandt Wireless Technologies has filed a lawsuit against Apple today in the U.S. district court for Eastern Texas, accusing the iPhone maker of infringing on two of its Bluetooth-related patents.
In its complaint, obtained by MacRumors, Rembrandt alleges that all Apple products that support Bluetooth 2.0 or newer with Enhanced Data Rate, including the iPhone 3GS and newer, all iPad and Apple Watch models, several Mac models, HomePod, and others, infringe on U.S. Patent Nos. 8,457,228 and 8,023,580.
Enhanced Data Rate, often shortened to EDR, is a technology that allows for faster Bluetooth data transmission speeds.
The asserted patents describe wireless communication techniques that appear to be related to Bluetooth with EDR, so the alleged infringement could extend to virtually any Bluetooth-enabled device. The same Eastern Texas court ordered Samsung to pay $11 million to Rembrandt last year over the same two patents.
Rembrandt is not the original assignee of the patents, which both expired on December 4, 2018, according to its complaint. The entity says it is still entitled to damages for infringement that occurred prior to the expiration of the patents.
Rembrandt is seeking an award of damages stemming from Apple's infringement in an amount to be proven at trial. In the Samsung case, a jury calculated damages based on a royalty rate of approximately five-and-a-half cents per infringing device. Rembrandt has requested a jury trial against Apple as well.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who also presided over the Samsung trial.
Biometric sensor company Valencell has reportedly settled a three-year-old lawsuit against Apple that accused the tech giant of stealing its technology for Apple Watch.
Valencell filed the patent infringement lawsuit against Apple back in January 2016 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The lawsuit accused the Cupertino-based company of infringing on four of its patents, all related to heart rate sensing technology, as well as deceptive trade practices and breach of contract, following dealings Apple had with Valencell before the launch of the Apple Watch.
However, citing a Valencell source, well-connected endurance tech blog the5krunner reports that "Valencell's case against Apple has now been settled and neither is able to further comment."
Valencell originally claimed Apple solicited technical information and know-how under the false pretense of a licensing agreement for its PerformTek technology, despite having no real intention of actually licensing it.
The biometric company also accused Apple of deciding it was more financially beneficial to risk infringing on Valencell's patents than to license them, claiming that the practice was "consistent with the statement by Apple CEO Steve Jobs that Apple has 'always been shameless about stealing great ideas.'"
Valencell had requested a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing future acts of infringement, as well as damages and an ongoing royalty rate for licensing purposes should a permanent injunction not be granted.
Valencell provides the optical heart rate monitoring and other biometric sensors in many third party devices. The company filed a similar lawsuit against Fitbit in January 2016, but that case is said to be still ongoing.
In the meantime, Apple said iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be available for purchase at its retail stores in Germany:
Qualcomm's campaign is a desperate attempt to distract from the real issues between our companies. Their tactics, in the courts and in their everyday business, are harming innovation and harming consumers. Qualcomm insists on charging exorbitant fees based on work they didn't do and they are being investigated by governments all around the world for their behavior. We are of course disappointed by this verdict and we plan to appeal. All iPhone models remain available to customers through carriers and resellers in 4,300 locations across Germany. During the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be available at Apple's 15 retail stores in Germany. iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will remain available in all our stores.
Earlier today, reports said a German court ruled that select iPhone models containing a combination of chips from Intel and Apple supplier Qorvo violated one of Qualcomm's patents around so-called "envelope tracking," a feature that helps preserve battery life when sending and receiving wireless signals.
In its statement, Apple said the latest iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR models remain available for purchase at all of its stores in Germany. The older iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will also remain available for purchase at authorized resellers and carriers in Germany, according to the company.
Reuters reported that the preliminary injunction will not go into immediate effect if Apple appeals, but legal expert Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents informed MacRumors that the injunction "is enforceable even during an appeal," which perhaps explains why Apple pulled iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models from its shelves in the country.
While I confirm new models not affected, Reuters is WRONG about appeal. The injunction is enforceable even during sn appeal. They misunderstood the judge.
Mueller also said the ruling applies up to the iPhone X, which Apple no longer sells in Germany, which would explain why the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR remain available for purchase in the country.
Qorvo's intellectual property lawyer Mike Baker via CNBC:
We believe our envelope tracking chip does not infringe the patent in suit, and the court would have come to a different conclusion if it had considered all the evidence. We're disappointed that the inventor and designer of our chip, who attended the hearing, wasn't given the opportunity to testify or present other evidence that disproves Qualcomm's claim of infringement. The International Trade Commission has already determined that our envelope tracker chip does not infringe the U.S. counterpart to the patent at issue in this case. We currently do not expect that this decision will have any impact on our business with Apple.
Intel's general counsel Steven Rodgers:
Qualcomm's goal is not to vindicate its intellectual property rights, but rather to drive competition out of the market for premium modem chips, and to defend a business model that ultimately harms consumers.
Apple and Qualcomm are engaged in a major legal battle spanning multiple countries, including China, where a court issued a similar preliminary injunction on select iPhones last week over two separate Qualcomm patents.
Last year, Apple accused Qualcomm of anticompetitive business practices over chip-related licensing fees, while Qualcomm has accused Apple of sharing its trade secrets with Intel among other illegal actions. In the U.S., the FTC is also taking Qualcomm to court next month over the alleged monopolistic behavior.
Update:: In a press release, Qualcomm said the judgment is immediately enforceable once Qualcomm posts the necessary bonds and that Apple's request to the court for a stay of the injunction was denied. Qualcomm says the court also found Apple liable for monetary damages in an amount to be determined.
Qualcomm's general counsel Don Rosenberg issued the following statement to MacRumors:
Two respected courts in two different jurisdictions just in the past two weeks have now confirmed the value of Qualcomm's patents and declared Apple an infringer, ordering a ban on iPhones in the important markets of Germany and China.
Qualcomm expects to post the required bonds within a few days.