American life without new iPhones: It could happen sooner than the decade it will take Mark Zuckerberg to render the smartphone obsolete — as in ASAP. According to a report Thursday in Bloomberg, Qualcomm is preparing to ask the International Trade Commission to ban the import of iPhones.
Because iPhones are made in Asia and thus are only importable, this could pose a problem for anyone who’d like one of the new models, which are scheduled for release later this year.
At issue: Apple Inc. stopped paying Qualcomm millions of dollars in licensing fees for the company’s smartphone chips. Under an arrangement, Qualcomm was able to charge Apple a percentage of the price of every high-speed-data smartphone it sold — whether a Qualcomm chip was used in that device or not. Apple said, in layman’s terms, hold up, and stopped paying the fees earlier this year on the grounds that this arrangement was unfair.
Both companies are now engaged in the corporate version of a wig-ripping fight in a nighttime soap opera, each accusing the other of using its position to create an illegal monopoly. According to the Bloomberg report, although the companies are making their cases in federal court, San Diego-based Qualcomm is said to be pursuing a judgment by the International Trade Commission, an agency in Washington D.C., because it can ban imports of products faster than the courts.
Representatives of both Apple and Qualcomm declined to comment.
But on Tuesday during an investor conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Qualcomm had not asked the company to halt sales according to rules involving patent licensing, and that he didn’t believe the iPhone imports would be banned.
“There’s plenty of case law around that subject,” he said. “But we shall see.”