The Supreme Court won’t hear the Apple-Qualcomm patent case

Apple and Qualcomm may have ended most of their feuds in 2019, but the fight may not be over yet. The edge reports that the Supreme Court has denied Apple’s request for a hearing on the possible invalidation of two Qualcomm patents that played a key role in attempts in 2017 to ban sales of the Apple Watch, iPad and iPhone over allegedly infringing modem technology. The court did not explain why it denied the request, but a Justice Department did amicus The May letter argued that there was no evidence the patents would harm Apple’s business.

While the companies entered into a six-year license agreement to settle their main dispute, the agreement kept a case pending in the US Patent and Trademark Office involving the two patents. Apple lost an attempt to invalidate the patents with the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board and failed again when a federal circuit court denied Apple’s appeal on the settlement. When Apple went to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department filed its supporting brief against the motion.

Apple claimed in its filing that Qualcomm could use the patents to sue again once the license agreement expires in 2025 or (if extended) 2027. It’s not certain what either company will do next. We’ve reached out to both Apple and Qualcomm for comment. However, the landscape may change significantly over the next few years. Apple is rumored to be dropping Qualcomm in favor of using its own 5G modems from 2023, and it’s not yet clear how that might affect the current truce.

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