The iPhone 8 is eagerly awaited by millions of fans, especially as more and more juicy rumors leak. But a new legal action might put Apple on the spot, and possibly keep the iPhone from the US altogether. How? It all centers on a patent argument.
The story starts last Friday, when Apple stopped making payments to Qualcomm over the iPhone. Qualcomm, a chip manufacturer, owns several patents that the iPhone uses, and thus gets a cut of every iPhone sold. Apple, feeling that Qualcomm’s asking price was too high, sued in January over the patents and stopped making payments last Friday to step up the matter. That’s not minor, for Qualcomm; it makes $2 billion a year off iPhone royalties and royalties are about 80% of its profits.
So, Qualcomm has fired back by asking the International Trade Commission to ban imports of the iPhone into the US, the logic being that Apple is stealing Qualcomm’s intellectual property by not paying royalties. Since iPhones are made exclusively overseas, that would de facto mean an iPhone ban in America. Apple doesn’t believe Qualcomm can get the ban, but if it does, that would hit Apple where it hurts, as the iPhone is its biggest seller and the iPhone 8 is its most eagerly anticipated product.
It’s not clear yet if the ban will go through; if it does, Apple more or less will need to work out a temporary situation while this case winds through the courts. But for now, an iPhone ban is very much on the table.