iPhones get banned in Germany amid bitter Apple-Qualcomm fight

iPhone XS Max Flowers
Photo by Devon Janse van Rensburg on Unsplash

Apple just can’t catch a break. Just a week after iPhones got banned in China, Germany has decided to ban some iPhones as well. This marks Qualcomm’s second legal victory over Apple. It tried to do the same in the US earlier this year, but the country didn’t allow a blockage.

Reuters (via 9to5Mac) reports that a German court has ruled that iPhones which contain chips from Intel and Qorvo violated a Qualcomm patent related to envelope tracking. The feature helps smartphones conserve battery power while they’re sending and receiving wireless signals.

Apple Fights Back

Qorvo is insisting that it hasn’t violated Qualcomm’s hardware patent. Apple agrees and is planning to appeal the verdict. In the meantime, it’s agreed to pull the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 from its 15 Apple Stores in Germany. The other iPhones, including the new iPhone XS and iPhone XR, are still available.

This might not be true for long though, since Qualcomm might be planning to add more iPhones to its ban list. It may even be looking to go after resellers who are still selling the handsets. The chipmaker is taking a big risk with this case since there’s a chance it could lose the battle in the end and have to pay millions to Apple.

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As we mentioned above, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) had a similar patent case presented before it and went on Apple’s side. The German court could do the same if Apple plays its cards right. One big complication is the fact that the ITC is actually reviewing its decision so Qualcomm may end up on top eventually.

It’s all a big complicated mess and the customer will have to suffer through all this turmoil. Apple probably isn’t going to back down from a fight and settle with Qualcomm unless its profits are severely threatened. It’s continued to vend iPhones in China in spite of the ban and has even sent out a software update to further distance itself from Qualcomm’s patents.

Apple can’t send a software update in Germany’s case since the patent relates to wireless hardware. There are many more battles left, so be prepared for new iPhone bans and reversals in the weeks ahead.