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ITC says Apple infringes a Qualcomm patent but iPhones shouldn't be banned – CNET

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Qualcomm has wanted to prevent certain iPhones from being sold.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple might've infringed a Qualcomm patent, but that doesn't mean iPhones should be banned from sale, a new US International Trade Commission filing said Friday.

Qualcomm in late 2017 had asked the ITC to prevent iPhones that had Intel 4G chips from being sold because of allegations of patent infringement. Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender on Friday agreed that Apple infringed one Qualcomm patent related to power management, but it didn't infringe two other patents, he said in a final initial determination published to the ITC's website. 

"It is my recommendation that the statutory public interest factors weigh against issuing a limited exclusion order as to the products found to infringe the patents asserted in this investigation," Pender wrote without ever naming Apple or Qualcomm in his notice. 

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The case isn't over, though. It next goes to the full ITC commission, and President Donald Trump could even weigh in.

Qualcomm didn't immediately have a comment, and Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The two companies have been fighting over patents since January 2017, when Apple filed suit against Qualcomm for roughly $1 billion, saying the maker of wireless chips didn't give fair licensing terms for its technology. Apple wants to pay a lower amount for using Qualcomm technology in its devices. Qualcomm, the world's biggest provider of mobile chips, responded by suing Apple for patent infringement and seeking a ban on iPhone sales. The company maintains that no modern handset -- including the iPhone -- would've been possible without its cellular technologies.

Nearly a year ago, Qualcomm asked the ITC to ban the import and sale of certain iPhones that use Intel's modem. Those would've included the iPhone X88 Plus7 and 7 Plus that run on AT&T and T-Mobile. The phones that run on networks from Verizon and Sprint use Qualcomm's modem and wouldn't be included in the ban.

Earlier this week, Qualcomm accused Apple of stealing confidential information and trade secrets related to its chip software and then providing the info to Intel, a rival chip company.

Apple gave Intel engineers confidential information, including Qualcomm source code and log files, to overcome flaws in the company's chips used in iPhones, alleges a lawsuit filed Monday with the Superior Court of California. Qualcomm charged in the complaint that Apple used this "second source of chipsets" to pressure it in business negotiations.

Apple on Monday referred back to its previous comments that "Qualcomm's illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry."

Because of the legal dispute, Apple has moved away from using Qualcomm modems in its devices. Its newest phones, the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR, use only Intel 4G chips.

Apple-Qualcomm ITC Notice Sept 28 by jonathan_skillings on Scribd

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