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Partial Dismissal Granted in Apple v. Qualcomm

By George Khoury, Esq. on November 27, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The federal court down in San Diego recently issued a big, but relatively brief, ruling in the ongoing battle between Apple and Qualcomm. (To give you some perspective on how "ongoing" this has been, the ruling is listed as Document 737, and it was a ruling on a 12(b) motion.)

As reported by Courthouse News Service, Judge Curiel dismissed (without prejudice) 56 separate claims brought by Apple and its contract manufacturers against Qualcomm basically alleging the chipmaker was trying to double dip by selling the chips then demanding unjustified royalties. Notably though, the case has claims flying every which way and seems poised to get a whole lot messier as it gets further litigated.

Bad Patent, Good Contract

In addition to the court agreeing with Qualcomm that Apple's claims involving certain patents failed, the court seemed to express support for Qualcomm's claim of contract breach.

In short, Apple and its contract manufacturers contract with Qualcomm independently. After all of Apple's contract manufacturers agreed to Qualcomm's terms on the premise that Apple will support them, it is alleged that Apple instructed those manufacturers to stop making the royalty payments due under the contract.

The court explained that regardless of whether Apple is correct and the patent rights Qualcomm sought to license extinguished at their product's sales, the fact that Qualcomm has a valid contract that demands royalties from the contract manufacturers is a completely separate matter.

Lastly, while the docket is still under a thousand entries, the fact that the dismissals were without prejudice means the current First Amended Complaint could be replaced by a Third Amended Complaint which would be subject to another round of 12(b) motions.

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