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Qualcomm Wins $31M From Apple In Smartphone IP Trial

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California federal jury on Friday found that Apple owes Qualcomm roughly $31 million for infringing several patents relating to smartphone processors following a hotly contested trial that’s part of the sprawling legal battle between the two tech giants over smartphone technology.

After deliberating for just over a day following a week-and-a-half-long trial, the San Diego jury returned with a verdict entirely in favor of Qualcomm Inc., finding that Apple Inc. infringed three Qualcomm patents with the iPhones 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and 10, and affirming the validity of one of the patents.

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The patents are: 8,838,949, covering a technology to allow a smartphone to speedily connect to the internet when it is turned on; 9,535,490, relating to more efficient downloading of data for apps; and 8,633,936, covering technology to make graphics processing use less battery power.

The jury found that Apple infringed all three patents and rejected Apple’s contention that the ‘949 patent is invalid because one of the company’s former engineers purportedly contributed one of its key innovations and wasn’t credited as an inventor on the patent.

The jury awarded roughly $31 million in damages, agreeing with Qualcomm that its patented technology was worth a reasonable royalty of $1.40 for each of the tens of millions of iPhones at issue in the suit.

During closing arguments on Wednesday, Qualcomm attorney David Nelson of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP told jurors that Apple had tried to distract them with the equivalent of shiny objects, when the plain language of the patent claims made it clear that Apple had infringed.

Apple attorney Juanita Brooks of Fish & Richardson PC had countered in her closing argument that Qualcomm was claiming infringement of “old patents on old technology” to punish Apple for starting to source smartphone processing chips from Intel in 2016, after years of using Qualcomm as its exclusive supplier.

The relatively straightforward patent dispute was highlighted by the fireworks between the two heated rivals, which included Qualcomm asking U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw for a curative instruction shortly after the trial started, claiming Apple had prejudicially twisted the language of the ‘936 patent in its opening statement.

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Apple then made an even more eye-catching move, accusing Qualcomm of witness tampering, saying the engineer purportedly responsible for the ‘949 patent, Arjuna Siva, had hired a new lawyer, Matthew Warren of Lex Warren LLP, and rescinded a prior offer to testify voluntarily at the trial.

After Apple filed a subpoena, Siva appeared in court on Monday.

Following closing arguments on Wednesday, Nelson asked Judge Sabraw to order Apple to issue a public apology for making its witness-tampering allegation, saying news of the “baseless” allegation had spread online.

Judge Sabraw declined to take any action on the issue, however, saying he can’t “make Apple say things they aren’t prepared to state,” and telling Nelson that the facts on the record are there was no evidence of witness tampering by Quinn Emanuel or Qualcomm, and that the “allegations as to your firm have been retracted.”

The suit kicked off in July 2017, when Qualcomm sued Apple, claiming it had infringed six of its battery life patents with iPhone products.

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