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US Supreme Court Rejects Apple Attempts To Restart Qualcomm Patent Dispute

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The US Supreme Court on Monday denied iPhone maker Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) request for a hearing to invalidate two Qualcomm (QCOM) patents, which had an important role in the attempts made by the chip maker in 2017 to ban Apple Watch, iPad and iPhone sales citing infringement of modem technology.

The Supreme Court did not give any reason as to why it rejected the request but a Justice Department amicus brief from May had said that there was no evidence to show that the Qualcomm patents were causing any harm to Apple's business.

It was in 2019 that the two companies settled their patent royalty dispute, thus putting an end to all the legal action, including those with Apple's manufacturing partners. Apple paid Qualcomm an unspecified amount, while both sides decided upon a six-year patent license deal as well as a "multi-year" wireless chipset supply deal.

While the six-year licensing deal was to settle the main issue, the agreement did not draw any conclusion on a US Patent and Trademark Office case involving the two patents. Apple lost an attempt to invalidate the patents with the USPTO's Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and again failed when a Federal Circuit court dismissed Apple's appeal request based on the settlement. When the iPhone maker went to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department filed its supporting brief opposing the request.

Apple, in its lawsuit, said that Qualcomm might use the patents to sue again once the licensing deal expires in 2025 or 2027, if extended. It's not certain what either company will do next. The landscape is expected to change drastically over the next few years and according to sources, Apple is leaving Qualcomm in favor of using its own 5G modems as soon as next year, and it's not yet clear as to how that move will affect the ongoing truce.

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