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Access to Innovation



Qualcomm and Apple Fighting in China over Software Patents


Amid all the intrigue about the trade war between China (PRC) and the United States, this time not Huawei in the West but Apple in China has been dealt a blow. However the setback (if it proves to be that) is not from a Chinese firm but from American microchip producer Qualcomm, but dealt by the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in southeastern China.


The Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court injunction has ordered four subsidiaries of Apple to cease importing and selling iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X models. According to Qualcomm, the precise patents in question “enable consumers to adjust and reformat the size and appearance of photographs, and to manage applications using a touch screen when viewing, navigating and dismissing applications on their phones.”


Eva Xiao comments on possible implications for Apple’s business in China. Local government and business organizations in China apparently offer to subsidize purchases of Huawei (Chinese) smartphones while and even punishing owners of Apple ones. Furthermore, if Qualcomm’s case is enforced, Apple may only be able to sell its higher-end (newer) models, weakening its as its models are generally already high-cost in the Chinese market.


Apple maintains it is in the right, and has not stopped selling the prohibited iPhone models, to the frustration of Qualcomm. Huawei, having been discouraged overseas so much in recent weeks, may be smiling in its home country as two American companies wear down each other in Fuzhou.




* The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

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Taro Yaguchi



David Faber, “Qualcomm says Apple is still selling iPhones in China, breaching court order,”  CNBC, December 12, 2018.


Stephen Nellis, “Apple shares are dropping after Qualcomm wins import ban on several iPhones in China,” Business Insider (Reuters), December 10, 2018. “


Qualcomm, “Qualcomm Granted Preliminary Injunctions Against Apple in China:  Court Orders Immediate Ban on Import, Sale and Offers for Sale of Various Apple iPhone Models in China,” press release, December 10, 2018.


Eva Xiao, “Apple phones still sold in China despite ban,” Jakarta Post (Agence France-Presse), January 12, 2018.






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