The ongoing licensing dispute between Apple and Qualcomm was already getting ugly, but things could be about to get a lot worse. According to a Bloomberg report, Qualcomm is planning to ask the International Trade Commission to ban the import of iPhones from Asia.
Citing an anonymous person familiar with Qualcomm’s company strategy, Bloomberg writes that the chip maker is threatening to block all handsets from entering the US ahead of Apple’s anticipated new devices this fall.
The legal dispute began at the start of this year when the FTC filed a complaint over allegations of Qualcomm's anti-competitive practices. Apple then sued Qualcomm for about $1 billion, claiming it had been "charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with."
Last month, Qualcomm countersued Apple, denying the iPhone maker’s allegation in a 134-page filing, while accusing it of breach of contract and interfering with agreements Qualcomm has with other companies.
Qualcomm recently revealed Apple was withholding royalty payments as a result of the dispute, forcing it to cut revenue outlook by $500 million. Speaking about the case, CEO Tim Cook said he’s always hated litigation and is open to settling Qualcomm’s lawsuit, but expects a lengthy legal battle.
“They were insisting on charging royalties for technologies that they had nothing to do with, and so we were in a situation where the more we innovated with unique features like Touch ID, or advanced displays, or cameras, the more money Qualcomm would collect for no reason, and the more expensive it would be for us to innovate,” said Cook.
Whether the ITC really would do something as extreme as ban iPhone imports remains to be seen, but there’s no doubting that such an action would hit Apple very hard in the pocket.