Goodbye iPhones? Qualcomm Threatens To Block Apple Handsets From Entering US

By Donna Bellevue , May 04, 2017 06:10 AM EDT

Apple and Qualcomm have escalated their legal battle, and repercussions may hit U.S. consumers next. The feud between two tech giants heats up on Wednesday as Qualcomm prepares to ask the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban iPhones from entering the country. The ITC has the power to restrict the import of products that have violated intellectual property rights.

In 2013, Apple had also requested the US agency to block some older phones by Samsung over alleged patent infringements. In the same way, Qualcomm could also place a ban on iPhones over some legal charges. It should be noted that although the iPhone is designed by Apple, it is largely manufactured in Asia and therefore must be imported to enter the U.S. market.

Both Apple and Qualcomm have declined to comment regarding the iPhone blocking issue. According to Fortune, the feud between the two tech and telecommunication giants started in January after Apple began using modem chips from Intel. About half of new iPhones last year were equipped with the Intel chips instead of buying all its chips from Qualcomm.

The business dealings of both companies shifted after Apple sued Qualcomm of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with". Apple also refused to pay quarterly rebates, which resulted to Qualcomm counter-suing Apple on April 10 allegedly for harming its business and breaching deals between the two companies. If Qualcomm continues to pursue the ban on iPhone imports this would likely make Apple's decision to completely stop paying royalties to Qualcomm.

Qualcomm revealed last week that Apple still has not paid the disputed fees of about $500 million for the second quarter. According to MacRumors, Apple has also withheld a portion of the fees over the previous three-quarters, totaling the unpaid fee to $1 billion. Should the ITC side with Qualcomm, it could potentially put a stop to iPhone shipments to the United States.

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