In einem Gastbeitrag für das englische IP-Newsblog „The IPKat“ berichtet Rechtsanwalt Mirko Brüß von einem aktuellen Patentrechtsstreit zwischen dem Chip-Hersteller Qualcomm und Apple. Seit der Veröffentlichung des Beitrags hat Qualcomm die Sicherheitsleistung in Höhe von ca. 1,3 Milliarden Euro hinterlegt und somit die Voraussetzungen für die Vollstreckbarkeit des – noch nicht rechtskräftigen – Urteils geschaffen (Az. 7 O 10495/17). Apple hat Berufung zum Oberlandesgericht München eingelegt.
German Court prohibits sale of certain iPhone models
Qualcomm and Apple have been litigating back and forth for some time, with the former obtaining a victory in China a few weeks ago. Now the District Court of Munich has hit Apple with two permanent injunctions affecting all iPhone models form the 7, 8 and X series (case No. 7 O 10495/17 and 7 O 10496/17). The judgment effectively prohibits the sale of all iPhones from these series in Germany and also finds Apple liable for damages.
Qualcomm asserted that Apple used a microchip built by Qorvo in the affected phones, which infringed Qualcomm’s European Patent 2 724 461 (“low-voltage power efficient envelope tracker”).
While it is generally upon the claimant to prove infringement by the defendant, Qualcomm argued it was impossible for them to know exactly how the Qorvo chip worked. Qualcomm had, however, provided a “teardown-report” that was generated by reverse engineering the chip from an iPhone. The Court found that due to factual and procedural reasons, this was sufficient to prove an infringement by Apple. According to the judges, it was up to Apple to counter Qualcomm’s assertion by describing in detail how the Qorvo chip worked without infringing Qualcomm’s patent. Apple claimed they could not provide such details, because doing so would endanger Qorvo’s confidentiality interests.
This led the court to take Qualcomm’s assertion for granted, that the Qorvo chip worked in a way that infringed Qualcomm’s patent. As a result, Apple was ordered to stop selling devices with the „infringing“ chip, to provide details about the sales of the affected iPhone models and to pay damages to Qualcomm.
The judgments can theoretically be enforced before they become final but, in order to do so, Qualcomm must provide security in both cases. Looking at the potential effects of enforcing the judgment, the court ordered Qualcomm to pay a security of EUR 668 Million – in each case!
Qualcomm has announced it will pay the security in a matter of days, while Apple has announced it will appeal the judgments.
This will not be the last we hear of the global litigation between the two tech giants, as the Munich District Court has already scheduled a hearing in March 2019, in which two cases regarding another patent (“mobile terminal with a monopole like antenna”) will be argued. Ten more cases are pending at either the first or the second instance courts in Munich.