Judge Rules Apple's Lawsuits Against Qualcomm Can Proceed
Qualcomm has lost another early skirmish in its ongoing legal war with Apple over patent licensing. A federal judge last week denied the San Diego company's request to prevent Apple from pursuing foreign lawsuits over essentially the same issues that the companies are fighting over in the U.S.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel found that Qualcomm has failed to clear the legal hurdles required for the court to halt Apple's foreign lawsuits pending resolution of the case in the U.S.
Besides suing Qualcomm in San Diego federal court, Apple has also brought legal actions in China, Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
Qualcomm asked the court to stop Apple's foreign lawsuits pending a decision in federal district court on whether Qualcomm has offered Apple a license to its key cellular patents under "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms.
Qualcomm argued that these lawsuits were duplicative -- forcing the company to defend itself against the same action in multiple jurisdictions throughout the world.
If the U.S. court finds that Qualcomm had offered Apple a fair-priced patent license, then the foreign lawsuits would evaporate, according to Qualcomm.
That's because such a ruling would validate that Qualcomm had satisfied its "global commitment" to license its core 3G/4G cellular technology under fair terms -- rendering Apple's other arguments moot.
Apple countered that its foreign lawsuits are not centered on the terms Qualcomm had offered to license its portfolio of thousands of cellular patents.
Instead, Apple is challenging the validity of Qualcomm patents under laws of each country, and it's asserting that Qualcomm's patent licensing practices violate anti-monopoly laws in these countries.
Curiel sided with Apple, finding that none of Qualcomm's arguments merited halting the foreign lawsuits.
The ruling was the third legal setbacks for Qualcomm last week. It also failed to win injunctions to force four iPhone contract manufacturers to resume paying patent royalties -- which they stopped doing early this year because of the dispute with Apple.
In addition, Qualcomm's bid to delay implementing changes in its patent licensing business model required by South Korea's anti-monopoly regulator also was denied by the Seoul High Court. Qualcomm has appealed to the Korea Supreme Court.
Qualcomm's shares closed Monday up 93 cents at $50.57 on the Nasdaq exchange. For the year, however, the stock is down 20 percent.
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