Qualcomm loses bid for Apple iPhone import ban in ITC ruling

A Qualcomm sign is seen during the China International Import Expo (CIIE), at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, China November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc on Tuesday lost a bid to have imports of some Apple Inc iPhones banned in a final ruling on one dispute between the two companies by the full U.S. International Trade Commission.

In a separate but similar case, an administrative judge earlier recommended an import ban on some iPhones, siding with Qualcomm. But, unlike the second ruling, that finding is not binding and must be reviewed by the agency.

Both cases involve certain iPhone models containing chips made by Intel Corp.

Qualcomm and Apple did not immediately comment on the second ruling.

The two American companies are locked in a wide-ranging legal dispute in which Apple has accused Qualcomm of unfair patent licensing practices. Qualcomm has in turn accused Apple of patent infringement.

In the case in which Qualcomm lost in the final ruling, Qualcomm had argued that a ban was necessary because Apple infringed one of its patents.

But the ITC said the patent claim should not have been granted in the first place, sidestepping the questions of whether Apple infringed and whether a ban was fair.

The International Trade Commission is a government agency empowered to hear disputes over patented technology.

While the ITC cannot award money damages like federal courts, it can block sales of imported products if it determines they infringe on U.S. patents. So an ITC import ban has the effect of halting U.S. sales of a product made overseas.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Stephen Nellis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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