Apple is hitting the panic button in its legal dispute with Qualcomm in China. It’s started warning people that a ban on iPhones could have catastrophic effects on the Chinese and global economy since it would force the company to settle with Qualcomm.
At first, this doesn’t seem like something consumers should be concerned about. Why should folks care if Apple pays millions of dollars to Qualcomm for violating its patents? As per Bloomberg (via 9to5Mac), the iPhone maker’s argument is that settling with the chipmaker will compel all manufacturers to go back to paying unreasonably high licensing fees and incur heavy losses.
Apple VS Qualcomm: Origins
This is actually one of the reasons why this entire mess began. Apple thinks Qualcomm is taking advantage of its position as the biggest chipmaker in the world to force payment of ridiculously high licensing fees. Qualcomm responded by claiming that Apple was using its IP without paying for it.
All this came to a head recently when a Chinese court decided to ban sales of the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X based on a complaint Qualcomm filed. The firm claims the devices are in violation of two patents related to resizing images and managing apps on a touchscreen.
Apple has ignored this ban and appealed to the Chinese court to reconsider its decision. It’s also planning to release a software update to Chinese users early next week. It told Reuters (via AppleInsider) that the upgrade will address the minor functionality of the two patents in dispute.
Theoretically, if the iPhones aren’t infringing on Qualcomm’s patents, the brand can’t force a blockage. This isn’t stopping it from filing a fresh case asking for a ban on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR for the same patents, as reported by the Financial Times (via The Verge).
In the meantime, Apple is trying to appeal to China by pointing out just how much money it stands to lose if iPhones are banished from their market. Apple will lose millions of dollars a day, the government will lose hundreds of thousands in tax revenues, and Chinese suppliers will lose orders.