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Apple Gains Help From Microsoft And Google In Legal Battle Against Qualcomm

In the words of the Beatles, Apple is “gonna try with a little help from my friends”. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook recently filed comments with the United States International Trade Commission in support of Apple. The comments are part of the recent lawsuit saga between Apple and Qualcomm.

Qualcomm is currently trying to get regulators to ban the United States importation of iPhones with modem chips "other than those supplied by Qualcomm affiliates." If granted, the ban would cause devastating losses for Apple. The United States market accounts for roughly 40% of Apple’s total sales.

Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook believe that Qualcomm’s demand is unreasonable and anticompetitive. Not only would the ban cause "significant shocks to supply", but it would “help Qualcomm use its monopoly power for further leverage against Apple and allow them to drive up prices on consumer devices”. This is not the first time Qualcomm has been accused of anticompetitive practices. This past spring, the FTC filed a lawsuit against the company for using methods that strong-armed other companies into doing business with it.

In the past, Qualcomm was the primary supplier of cellular baseband chips for iPhones and iPads. Apple, however, disliked that Qualcomm wanted to require customers to sign patent license agreements and accused the company of withholding $1 billion in promised rebates. Apple has been flirting with other chip producers and recently incorporated Intel chips into the iPhone 7.

Qualcomm has a number of lawsuits against Apple. This past winter, Qualcomm accused the company of intentionally crippling its Snapdragon X12 LTE modem in certain versions of the iPhone 7. The company believed Apple did this so that the chips would perform similarly to the Intel XMM 7360 used in AT&T models.

Qualcomm has filed a lawsuit against Apple for patent infringement as well. The company claims that “Qualcomm’s inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standard”. This lawsuit also includes suppliers like the notorious Foxconn. There is currently no word yet as to when any of these lawsuits will be resolved.

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