Apple to stop selling iPhone 7 and 8 in its German stores

21 Dec 2018

Apple Store in Frankfurt, Germany. Image: ifeelstock/Depositphotos

In latest legal skirmish, Qualcomm continues to bruise Apple. Expect an epic showdown in coming months.

A court in Munich has issued a permanent injunction against sales of iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 devices from Apple’s retail stores in Germany.

The latest victory for Qualcomm follows a similar win in a Chinese court in recent weeks, which saw the ban of Apple device sales from the iPhone 6S to the iPhone X over alleged patent violations.

Apple skirted the ban – which centred on features that let users reformat the size and appearance of photos, and manage applications on a touchscreen while navigating through phone apps – in China by applying a software update.

A prelude to a bigger fight in 2019

However, in Germany it might not be so easy as that, as Apple has been blocked from presenting key evidence that it had successfully used to defend itself in a similar case in the US concerning a supplier called Qorvo. This was because Qualcomm played a trump card by refusing to agree to hold the evidence confidential.

As a result of the Munich injunction, Apple said it will stop selling the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 at its 15 stores in Germany. However, all iPhone models will be available at third-party retailers in the country.

Apple said that it plans to appeal the ruling. Its newest models – the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR – will continue to be sold at Apple stores in Germany.

The court also granted Qualcomm’s request for an accounting of the details associated with all sales, including revenues and profits of the accused devices in Germany, and a recall and destruction of all accused devices from all retailers in Germany. The injunction is effective as soon as Qualcomm posts the required bonds, which it said will be completed within a few days.

“Two respected courts in two different jurisdictions just in the past two weeks have now confirmed the value of Qualcomm’s patents and declared Apple an infringer, ordering a ban on iPhones in the important markets of Germany and China,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice-president and general counsel at Qualcomm.

The legal skirmishes in Germany between Qualcomm and Apple are really just the opening barrages of a more epic confrontation that will occur in the US in the coming months as antitrust regulators and Apple both take Qualcomm to court. The development is the latest twist in a legal battle that echoes a similar dispute over patents between Apple and Samsung that lasted for seven long years.

In a legal salvo in September, Qualcomm alleged that Apple stole intellectual property (IP) and gave it to Intel, ostensibly so Intel could make lower-price chips for the iPhone. Intel modem chips are used in the new iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR smartphones.

Apple sued Qualcomm last year, claiming the latter was charging exorbitant royalties for what it claimed were unique Apple innovations. Qualcomm countersued, claiming that the iPhone’s success would not have been possible without its technology.

Apple Store in Frankfurt, Germany. Image: ifeelstock/Depositphotos

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years