US court rejects Qualcomm bid to limit Apple lawsuits

San Francisco (AFP) –


A US federal judge Friday rejected an effort by Qualcomm to limit legal challenges from Apple in the contentious patent battles between the two California technology giants.

Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel refused to grant Qualcomm's request to prevent Apple from pursuing its litigation in a dozen other countries, in a ruling which represents just the first round of legal wrangling with Apple.

Qualcomm, the computer chip giant, sued Apple in response to the iPhone maker's efforts to join antitrust actions in the United States and other countries, contending Apple has been using Qualcomm technology without paying for it.

The procedural ruling still leaves a long road ahead for the two firms, which are battling over the rights for technology used in iPhones and other mobile devices.

The judge said he was unable to enjoin Apple from pursuing legal action against Qualcomm in Britain, China, Japan, Taiwan and elsewhere, rejecting the Qualcomm argument that these are all part of "a single licensing dispute."

"Qualcomm placed global relief on the table, not Apple," the judge wrote.

"Accordingly, the court is not prepared to find that the threat of granting Qualcomm the relief that it seeks, here, is reason enough to enjoin the otherwise legitimate lawsuits that Apple filed elsewhere."

Responding to the latest ruling, Apple welcomed the judge's decision in a statement, adding that "Apple has always been willing to pay a fair price for technology used in our products, but for years Qualcomm has acted unreasonably and refused to negotiate fair terms for the single connectivity component they provide."

Qualcomm spokeswoman Christine Trimble said in an emailed statement: "While we are disappointed by today?s rulings, we recognize that the motions involved high procedural hurdles. Nevertheless, we are pleased that the court has set a case schedule that will get us to trial expeditiously."

Apple filed a US lawsuit in January accusing Qualcomm of abusing its market power for certain mobile chipsets to demand unfair royalties, and has also joined efforts in other countries where Qualcomm faces probes from antitrust authorities.

Qualcomm responded with its own claims against Apple and argued that the iPhone maker had been providing "false and misleading information" to antitrust authorities in an effort to reduce its royalty payments to Qualcomm.