Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) legal battle with Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) shows no signs of de-escalating, despite Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf's hopes over the summer that the two companies could settle. Quite the opposite, in fact: The Mac maker has now filed a countersuit against the mobile chip giant alleging that it is infringing on at least eight patents related to battery life.
The patents relate to a smartphone processor's power consumption, and how the processor tries to consume just enough juice necessary, in order to prolong battery life, as well as deactivating different components within the processor when not needed, according to Reuters.
The ongoing battle intensifies
The specific processors in question are Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 and 820 processors. The Snapdragon 800 is found inside older flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, while the newer Snapdragon 820 powers the Galaxy S7 from last year. The chips are not Qualcomm's latest and greatest, but are still prevalent in many midrange phones that were high-end flagships a year or two ago.
The countersuit is in response to Qualcomm's patent infringement suit filed in July related to six of its own patents, some of which also had to do with battery life. Apple had initially denied infringement and expectedly argued that Qualcomm's patents were invalid, but did not countersue at the time.
Qualcomm had also filed an injunction request with the International Trade Commission based on the infringement allegations, seeking an import ban, but was only looking to block the import of iPhones carrying Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) modems. That didn't sit right with Intel, since none of the patents were related to cellular technology, so it looked an awful lot like Qualcomm was trying to use unrelated patents to preclude a baseband modem competitor.
Intel called out Qualcomm in its Public Interest Statement in July (emphasis original):
The Commission should make no mistake: Qualcomm's Complaint attempts to accomplish something quite different from the ordinary vindication of patent rights. Qualcomm's goal is not to exclude supposedly infringing products from the United States. Instead, its primary goal is to exclude Intel modems from the United States, while giving free passage to allegedly infringing Apple products that incorporate a Qualcomm modem. This strategy is especially evident in Qualcomm's assertion of some patents that have nothing to do with Intel's modems -- for example, one on graphics processing that would be infringed (or not infringed) regardless of whether Apple uses an Intel or Qualcomm modem.
Apple is reportedly seeking unspecified damages, but oftentimes these types of suits are meant to increase the legal pressure and incentive to settle. Too bad that doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon, and Apple appears to be accelerating its shift toward Intel modems.
Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Qualcomm and has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.