No matter how audacious it might sound but that is exactly what Qualcomm has sought the International Trade Commission to do, banning Apple from importing the iPhone in the US. And to do that in the run-up to the launch of the mega anniversary edition iPhone 8 speaks volumes of how much damage it wishes to inflict on the Cupertino giant for refusing to pay its licensing fees.
All of it started after Apple refused to cough out the billions of dollars that it has been paying the chipmaker as license fees. Qualcomm is claiming they hold the patents that apply to all smartphone capable of data communication using high-speed modems irrespective of the device actually using any of its chipsets.
However, trouble started when Apple suddenly stopped paying the fees accusing Qualcomm instead of following unfair trade practices. In fact, Apple has even filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm in January in which it accused the chipmaker of charging more than it should.
Qualcomm responded by filing a counter suit in which it accused Apple of breaching terms of the agreement. Apple further retaliated by stopping the payment altogether, saying it will pay again but only after the court decides the amount it is liable to pay the chipmaker.
The case is still in the Federal courts though an outcome is not expected anytime soon given the tardy progress such cases usually make. It is here that the ITC comes into the picture given its fast decision-making process. Top that off with the powers it has in clamping an imports ban on Apple and it should explain Qualcomm rushing to the regulatory body while the case is still being heard in the courts.
In fact, for Qualcomm, the stakes are perhaps higher given that if the courts rule in favor of Apple, more companies in other countries too might follow suit. That again would result in a damage that can run up to several billion every year.
Also, needless to say, any order that bans Apple from importing the iPhone into the country would be a disaster. This would be specially so when it is busy firming up plans to launch the 10th-anniversary edition of the handset tentatively named iPhone 8.