Qualcomm, who filed the lawsuit in July 2017, assumed that Apple had used its technology without authorization in some versions of its popular iPhone. The jury awarded Qualcomm the entire amount requested at the start of the two-week trial, which was held.
A disputed Qualcomm patent concerns the technology that allows a smartphone to quickly connect to the Internet once the device is turned on. Another concerns the graphics processing and battery life. The third deals with the technology that shifts the traffic between the app's processor and a phone's modem.
The $ 31 million in damages is a drop in the Apple bucket, a company that briefly became a $ 1 trillion company last year. But it marks an important victory for Qualcomm, burnishing its reputation as a mobile components innovator. Victory also gives credibility to the notion that much of the innovation of the company is reflected in iPhones.
The verdict sets the stage for a long-awaited trial between the two companies scheduled for next month in San Diego. The dispute, over Qualcomm's patent rights with Apple, is worth billions of dollars and will be a crescendo in the vast legal saga of technology giants.
The clash between Apple and Qualcomm began two years ago, when the Federal Trade Commission, with the help of Apple and Intel, accused Qualcomm of being a monopoly of modern chips. The FTC stated that Qualcomm's royalty rates prevented competitors from entering the market and increased phone prices. That trial took place in January and the parties are currently awaiting a decision.
Next month's trial will also examine Qualcomm's licensing activity.
The patent case that was decided on Thursday, chaired by US district judge Dana Sabraw, is more technical and less high-profile than the other parts of the legal battle. However, it could have implications for how your phone is made and how much it costs.
Qualcomm General Counsel Don Rosenberg applauded the decision.
"The unanimous verdict of today's jury is the latest victory in our worldwide patent litigation aimed at holding Apple accountable for using our valuable technologies without paying for them," he said. . "The technologies invented by Qualcomm and others have allowed Apple to enter the market and be so successful.
Apple said it was" disappointed "by the verdict." Qualcomm's ongoing patent infringement campaign is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the biggest issues it faces with investigations into their commercial practices in the US federal court and around the world, "said a spokesman.
The two sides spent a large part of the process fighting for Apple's patent boot. Apple claimed that one of his then engineers, Arjuna Siva, made a fundamental contribution to the technology and should be named on the patent Apple said Qualcomm stole the idea when the two companies were working together to bring Qualcomm chips to the iPhone. The process took a surprising turn last week, when Siva, who now works for Google, apparentlythen in .
The jury has shocked Apple's argument that Siva should have been named inventor.
Apple claimed that the trial did not concern only patents. During the closing argumentsApple's councilor, Juanita Brooks, said that the "real motivation" for the cause was the retaliation for Apple that brought Intel as the second chip supplier in 2016. He said Qualcomm was upset because the two companies had previously had an exclusive relationship since 2011.
Now Intel has completely replaced Qualcomm in iPhones.
"Qualcomm went into a drawer, dusted off some old patents and threw them against the wall to see if they would stick together," she said. In response, Qualcomm consultant David Nelson said "We have the right to get a return on our intellectual property".