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Apple Says China iPhone Ban Would Force Settlement with Qualcomm

Apple says a Chinese ban on sales of the iPhone will force it to settle a long and bitter licensing battle with Qualcomm, an outcome that may end up harming the country’s smartphone industry and give its fiercest legal rival a boost.

The U.S. company was responding to a Chinese court that ruled last week Apple infringed two Qualcomm patents and issued injunctions against the sale of six older versions of the iPhone. Apple, which has filed a request for consideration, argues the decision harms China’s interests by potentially raising the royalties and fees that phonemakers pay Qualcomm.

The ruling from a local court, which came as Washington and Beijing are locked in sensitive trade negotiations, pivoted the battle over patent fees to the world’s largest mobile arena. Apple’s response underscores the importance of the Chinese market, as well as Qualcomm’s crucial role as a technology provider to the likes of Huawei and Xiaomi. Apple said it will push out a software update for its Chinese users early next week, to address functions covered by the patents in question.

The sources disclosed, in the iPhone maker Dec.10 filing to the court, “Apple will be forced to settle with the Respondent, causing all mobile phone manufacturers to relapse into the previous unreasonable charging mode and pay high licensing fees, resulting in unrecoverable losses in the downstream market of mobile phones.”