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Qualcomm wins preliminary China import ruling against some iPhone models



(Reuters) – Chip supplier Qualcomm Inc on Monday said it had won a preliminary order from a Chinese court banning the importation and sale of several Apple Inc iPhone models in China due to patent violations, though Apple said its phones remain available in the country.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Qualcomm is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The preliminary order affects the iPhone 6S through the iPhone X sold with older versions of Apple’s iOS operating system. Qualcomm, the biggest supplier of chips for mobile phones, initially filed its case in China in late 2017.

The ruling came from the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in China, the same court that earlier this year banned the import of some of memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc’s chips into China.

Yiqiang Li, a patent lawyer at Faegre Baker Daniels not involved in the case, said the type of injunction granted to Qualcomm by the Fuzhou court does not go into effect until there has been an appeal to a higher court.

The court found Apple violated two of Qualcomm’s software patents around resizing photographs and managing applications on a touch screen.

“Apple continues to benefit from our intellectual property while refusing to compensate us,” Don Rosenberg, general counsel of Qualcomm, said in a statement.

Apple shares were down 2 percent.

Because the patents concern software, Apple could make changes to its software to avoid the patents and still be able to sell its phones.

In a statement, Apple said that all iPhone models remain available for its customers in China. New iPhones use Apple’s latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 12.

“Qualcomm’s effort to ban our products is another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world,” Apple said in its statement.

The patents in the suit, which Qualcomm said on Monday had been upheld by the Chinese patent office, are separate from those being contested in other cases in its wide-ranging legal dispute with Apple. Qualcomm has also asked regulators in the United States to ban the importation of several iPhone models over patent concerns, but U.S. officials have so far declined to do so.

Li said the Chinese injunction could put pressure on Apple to reach a settlement of its patent dispute with Qualcomm globally.

The specific iPhone models affected by the preliminary ruling in China are the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Susan Thomas