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Kenny Louie / Flickr CC

Qualcomm on Wednesday announced a fresh lawsuit in its legal squabble with Apple, this time targeting the contract manufacturers who make the iPhone. The suit, filed in federal court in California, accuses Foxconn, Wistron, Pegatron and Compel of breaching their licensing contracts with Qualcomm.

While not disputing their contractual obligations to pay for the use of Qualcomm's inventions, the manufacturers say they must follow Apple's instructions not to pay. The license agreements with the manufacturers in many cases were entered into before Apple sold its first iPhone and Apple is not a party to the agreements. Further, the defendants are continuing to pay Qualcomm royalties for use of Qualcomm's technology in non-Apple products, under the very same agreements that apply to the Apple products.

Qualcomm has already sued Apple for interfering with these contracts, while Apple has sued Qualcomm for withholding licensing payments.

The argument: Apple contends that Qualcomm's royalty fees for its standards-essential patents are unreasonable, in particular because they are based on the total price of the phone. Qualcomm, meanwhile, stands by its royalty structure.

Why it matters: It's a high-stakes legal battle for both companies. Although Apple uses its own processor for the iPhone, it relies on Qualcomm for modem chips in order for its phones to run on Sprint and Verizon's network. Apple, meanwhile, is one of Qualcomm's biggest licensing customers thanks to the high price and strong sales of the iPhone.

Go deeper

Rep. Dan Crenshaw says he'll be blind for a month after eye surgery

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) in Washington, D.C., in December 2020. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said in a statement Saturday he will be blind for roughly a month after getting surgery to reattach the retina in left eye.

Why it matters: Crenshaw, who lost his right eye and sustained severe damage to his left eye during his third deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, said he will be "pretty much off the grid for the next few weeks."

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
3 hours ago - Science

NASA's Mars helicopter is a test for the future of space exploration

Ingenuity (left) with Perseverance on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA is set to fly the first test flight of its tiny Ingenuity helicopter on Mars Sunday, marking the advent of drones for space exploration.

Why it matters: If successful, this flight will be the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The global future is looking dark and stormy

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.

The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.