Millions at Stake in Qualcomm, Apple Spat

In this April 27, 2017 photo, visitors look at a display booth for Qualcomm at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

SAN DIEGO (CN) – Eight jurors Wednesday heard closing arguments by attorneys in a highly technical federal patent trial in the ongoing global intellectual property dispute between technology giants Qualcomm and Apple where millions of dollars are at stake.

Qualcomm attorney David Nelson, with Quinn Emanuel, told jurors in U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw’s courtroom Wednesday the San Diego-based technology company should be awarded over $31 million in damages for Apple’s alleged infringement of three of its patents used in iPhone models 7 through 10.

Nelson said the amount represents that which would have been agreed to during a “hypothetical negotiation” had the two companies agreed on the amount per iPhone device Apple should have paid in royalties to Qualcomm to use its patented technology related to data storage and battery life for cellphones.

Qualcomm claims its patents used in newer generation iPhones resulted in 15 minutes of extra battery life per device, which Nelson pointed out is important to Apple.

“It isn’t just about battery life. The new features in these iPhones need to be power neutral … reduce power consumption to add new features,” Nelson said.

Nelson also disputed some of the detailed arguments put forward by Apple in arguing it hasn’t infringed Qualcomm’s patents. He said the language of Qualcomm’s patents is more general than and not as limiting as Apple represented.

But Apple attorney Juanita Brooks with Fish & Richardson said “our damages position is we owe Qualcomm not one penny for old technology.”

Brooks said the technology Apple used in its new iPhones was different than that patented by Qualcomm and that some of the technology was developed over time with Intel.

“Just because we’re working with Qualcomm doesn’t mean we have to take everything they give us without changing it for our iPhones and what we want from our iPhones,” Brooks said.

She also disputed the lawsuit was about alleged patent infringement, saying Qualcomm did not try to enforce its patents until Apple opted to use some Intel chipsets in its new iPhones. From 2011 to 2016, Apple had purchased the technology exclusively from Qualcomm.

“The first we heard of [the patents] was when we were not in an exclusive relationship with Qualcomm,” Brooks said.

Brooks’ closing arguments – like her opening arguments – included the use of oversize poster board charts and illustrations and computer animations to help the jurors grasp the complicated patent disputes at issue.

Also central to the case is the issue of inventorship of one of Qualcomm’s patents; Apple claims its former engineer Arjuna Siva was the one who came up with an idea for one of the patents Qualcomm filed with the United State Patent and Trademark Office but he was not named as a co-inventor.

“This isn’t about legal games or about trying to get money for something we didn’t do, this is about integrity … All we’re asking for is credit where credit is due,” Brooks said.

The current trial follows one earlier this year in Silicon Valley brought by the Federal Trade Commission against Qualcomm alleging antitrust violations over the federal agency’s claim Qualcomm’s monopoly over the chipset technology stunts competition in the technology industry.

It also precedes a trial in a much larger case across the street in San Diego in U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s courtroom brought by Apple and its contract manufacturers against Qualcomm also over its alleged antitrust violations for its monopoly on the chipset technology used in virtually all cellphones.

Last year, an attorney for Qualcomm claimed Apple and its contract manufacturers owed billions in unpaid royalties for using the technology in cellphones. That trial is scheduled to begin April 15.

Jurors began deliberations Wednesday afternoon.

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