Monday, September 17, 2018

Qualcomm keeps escalating patent dispute with Apple: new German lawsuit(s) filed

With a view to a Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement trial in Munich on Thursday I contacted the Munich I Regional Court to check on the time. As for the biggest issue in that case, may I refer you to my recent post on how thin air can "practice" claim limitations unless the name of the game is the claim.

On the same occasion, I inquired about any Qualcomm v. Apple first hearings that might come up in the near term. Unlike other German courts, the Munich court holds a first hearing, not as formally focused on claim construction as a U.S. Markman hearing, prior to patent trials. A spokeswoman for the court kindly informed me that a first hearing in two parallel cases, targeting different Apple entities, has been scheduled for March 28, 2019.

The patent-in-suit in both cases is EP1988602 on a "mobile terminal with a monopole[-]like antenna."

Knowing the usual Munich timelines, it appears that the new complaints have only been filed recently. I guess just before the main summer vacation season here, or at least not long before.

I've also tried to find out from the Mannheim Regional Court (the other German Qualcomm v. Apple venue, where a trial will be held tomorrow in fact). The Mannheim court cannot announce new trial dates yet, and it doesn't hold first hearings. However, Qualcomm previously asserted the same number of patents in either venue, so there might also be a new Mannheim case, just that there's no official confirmation yet.

Qualcomm doesn't make phones, so it doesn't actually want the iPhone banned. Seeking injunctions against Apple is, however, a means to the end of forcing rival chipset makers, particularly Intel, out of the market, a strategic objective that has provoked an EU antitrust complaint by Apple, which the European Commission is investigating on a preliminary basis, and raises serious public-interest issues in the two ITC investigations of Qualcomm's requests for U.S. import bans. An evidentiary hearing (basically, a trial before an Administrative Law Judge) in the second one of those cases commences today, and I'll try hard to find out as soon as possible (last time I was slow) about the recommendations made by the Office of Unfair Import Investigations (OUII, commonly referred to as "ITC staff") and whatever the ALJ may indicate today or later this week.

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