The battle between Apple and Qualcomm seems endless. If yesterday we echoed a supposed call for calm from the chip manufacturer, today a senior Apple executive has confirmed that the company is underwriting the legal costs of its four iPhone manufacturers in their legal battles with Qualcomm .
While Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf tried to defuse the situation with a statement in Aspen in softer language, the legal dispute took on new momentum yesterday from Apple. The four iPhone makers Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron and Compal filed antitrust charges against Qualcomm yesterday, according to Reuters news agency .
The companies claim that Qualcomm violated two sections of the Sherman Act, a U.S. antitrust law. The allegations, made in a filing Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, are counterclaims to a Qualcomm lawsuit filed in May seeking to force contractors to pay Qualcomm’s license fees that Apple ordered them to stop paying .
Which brings us almost full circle, a whole dispute that began in January, when the FTC accused Qualcomm of anti-competitive practices . Apple took this as a signal to sue Qualcomm for USD 1 billion for an allegedly excessive burden on patent capital gains, and Qualcomm quickly reacted. Apple asked the four iPhone manufacturers to withhold payments to Qualcomm, resulting in them also being sued .
The Reuters report states that Apple is “helping to fund the legal defense of contractors as part of a compensation agreement between the companies” . Qualcomm accused Apple of blackmail, Apple accused Qualcomm of double-play and the chip designer responded by seeking an import ban on the iPhone. We will continue to watch to see how this escalation of demonstrations of force is or is not resolved.