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Apple will stop selling some iPhone models in its stores in Germany following ruling in patent case


Qualcomm was granted a second injunction against Apple Thursday, banning it from selling some iPhone models in Germany that use chips from Intel and parts from another supplier, Qorvo. There was no clear reaction to the news in Apple’s stock price.

In a statement, Apple said it plans to appeal the ruling. Under this condition, judge Matthias Zigann told the court earlier Thursday, the ruling would not go into immediate effect. However, Apple said that throughout the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models would not be sold in its 15 retail stores in Germany. Its newest models, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will still be sold in those stores, Apple said in the statement. All iPhone models will still be sold through carriers and other third-party retailers in Germany, Apple said.

The German case is Qualcomm’s third major effort to secure a ban on Apple’s lucrative iPhones over patent infringement allegations after similar court efforts in the United States and in China. This is the second major win for Qualcomm against Apple after a Chinese court granted an injunction against Apple for an alleged patent violation on Dec. 10.

In Germany, Qualcomm is seeking a ban on some iPhones with chips from Intel. The judge ruled that phones that contain a combination of chips from Intel and Apple supplier Qorvo violated one of Qualcomm’s patents around so-called envelope tracking, a feature that helps mobile phones save battery power while sending and receiving wireless signals.

Apple said in a statement, “Qualcomm’s campaign is a desperate attempt to distract from the real issues between our companies. Their tactics, in the courts and in their everyday business, are harming innovation and harming consumers. Qualcomm insists on charging exorbitant fees based on work they didn’t do and they are being investigated by governments all around the world for their behavior. We are of course disappointed by this verdict and we plan to appeal. All iPhone models remain available to customers through carriers and resellers in 4,300 locations across Germany. During the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be available at Apple’s 15 retail stores in Germany. iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will remain available in all our stores.”

In a statement, Qorvo’s Chief Intellectual Property Counsel Mike Baker said, “We believe our envelope tracking chip does not infringe the patent in suit, and the court would have come to a different conclusion if it had considered all the evidence. We’re disappointed that the inventor and designer of our chip, who attended the hearing, wasn’t given the opportunity to testify or present other evidence that disproves Qualcomm’s claim of infringement. The International Trade Commission has already determined that our envelope tracker chip does not infringe the U.S. counterpart to the patent at issue in this case. We currently do not expect that this decision will have any impact on our business with Apple.”

Intel’s General Counsel Steven Rodgers said in a blog post, “Qualcomm’s goal is not to vindicate its intellectual property rights, but rather to drive competition out of the market for premium modem chips, and to defend a business model that ultimately harms consumers.”

A Qualcomm spokesperson did not immediately have a statement.

Qualcomm sued Apple in the regional court in Munich in July last year, seeking an injunction to halt some iPhone sales in Germany as well as monetary damages. The case is part of a broader court conflict between the two, in which Apple has alleged that Qualcomm engaged in anticompetitive business practices to protect a monopoly on its modem chips, which help mobile phones connect to wireless data networks. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has also sued Qualcomm over its business practices in a case set to go to trial in California next month.

Apple had tried to preempt a ban based on a different feature by altering its software in Germany, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

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