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Court forces Apple to change its German product range

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Apple announced yesterday that it will resume selling older iPhone models in Germany, but only ones with Qualcomm chips. The company stopped selling these devices in Germany after a court order last year.

According to Apple, it didn’t have any other choice than to stop using Intel Corp chips in iPhones destined for Germany, because it had to abide by the patent infringement court judgement.

Qualcomm, the biggest global mobile chip supplier, took Apple to court in Germany claiming that certain older iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models breached its patents – something to do with “envelope tracking”, which enables smartphones to preserve battery power while receiving and sending wireless signals.

The claimed patent infraction wasn’t related to Intel chips as such, but to Apple supplier Qorvo, whose chips were used in older devices using Intel modems.



The court ruled in favour of Qualcomm and stopped sales of iPhone devices that used these modems. This forced Apple to withdraw the devices from its 15 retail outlets in Germany, as well as its online German store – a huge victory for Qualcomm.

Apple accused Qualcomm of unlawful patent licensing practices to protect its monopoly on the modem chips that connect smartphones to mobile phone networks. Qualcomm’s counterclaim was that Apple violated its patents.

After only using Qualcomm chips for a long time, Apple started using Intel modem chips three years ago and subsequently dropped Qualcomm chips completely, though the latter still supplied Apple with chips for its older devices.

Apple said yesterday that it will, in future, only use Qualcomm chips in iPhone 7 and 8 devices sold in Germany, although the newer range of iPhones with Intel chips will still be available in that country.

Apple said in a press statement: “Qualcomm is attempting to use injunctions against our products to try to get Apple to succumb to their extortionist demands.”

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