Paul Sakuma / AP

Qualcomm is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban imports into the U.S. of Apple iPhones that use Intel modem chips. In papers being filed Thursday, Qualcomm charges that the iPhone infringes on six Qualcomm patents covering a range of things from manufacturing techniques to methods of reducing battery use.

It's the latest escalation in the high-stakes legal battle between the two companies. Both companies have sued one another. Qualcomm has also sued Apple's iPhone contract manufacturers saying the companies are improperly withholding royalty payments at Apple's behest.

Why it matters: Despite their legal animus, both companies still need one another. Apple relies on Qualcomm for modem chips that work on Sprint and Verizon's networks, while Apple remains one of Qualcomm's main sources of revenue. It's already started to have an impact on Qualcomm's earnings.

"Qualcomm's inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards," general counsel Don Rosenberg said in a statement. "The patents we are asserting represent six important technologies, out of a portfolio of thousands, and each is vital to iPhone functions."

Why these six patents?: Rosenberg told Axios that the patents are all recent (from the last four years) and none are of the so-called "standards-essential" variety, under which Qualcomm has to license to all companies at fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. That's an effort to rebut Apple's claims that Qualcomm is seeking to reap unfair gains from old technology and to seek excessive royalties on standards-essential patents.



Not all iPhones in crosshairs: Qualcomm is only seeking to ban iPhones that use other companies' modem chips even though Rosenberg says the company believes all iPhones – even those using Qualcomm modem chips – require a patent license since its intellectual property goes well beyond the modem. Limiting the exclusion order request, though, helps serve the public interest by keeping the iPhone available and also fulfills certain requirements of Qualcomm's chip contract with Apple, Rosenberg said.

Go deeper

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,393,591 — Total deaths: 950,344— Total recoveries: 20,679,272Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,722,699 — Total deaths: 198,484 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
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  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.