Apple looking to eschew Qualcomm chips in iPhones, iPads next year: report

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Apple and Qualcomm have been engaged in a patent battle since January.

Apple is reportedly looking to eschew Qualcomm components in its iPhones and iPads as early as next year as the companies continue to wage war in patent courts.

Apple is considering moving to chips from Intel and possibly MediaTek, The Wall Street Journal reported this morning, citing unnamed “people familiar with the matter,” after San Diego-based Qualcomm began withholding software necessary to test its components in iPhones and iPads in development.

Earlier this year, Apple filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Qualcomm, contending the chipmaker insists on onerous royalties for its technologies and demands payments for technologies it didn’t develop, such as Apple’s Touch ID. Apple claimed in that suit that it “has been overcharged billions of dollars on Qualcomm’s illegal scheme,” although the suit seeks damages of just less than $1 billion.

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Qualcomm filed a countersuit in April, claiming among other things that the iPhone vendor “breached” and “mischaracterized” agreements with the chipmaker and interfered in deals with Qualcomm licensees.

Apple returned fire in June, saying in a legal filing that evidence increasingly indicated Qualcomm’s business model is “illegal.” That complaint alleged that Qualcomm’s strategy “burdens innovation," and that some patents for which Qualcomm is demanding royalties are invalid.

Qualcomm in July asked U.S. trade authorities to block imports of some iPhones and iPads, escalating a massive battle over patent royalties that began in January. The chipmaker filed a suit with the U.S. International Trade Commission accusing Apple of illegally importing and selling iPhones “that infringe one or more claims of six Qualcomm patents covering key technologies that enable important features and functions in iPhones.” The company also filed a second complaint asking the ITC to halt Apple’s importations of phones and tablets that don’t include Qualcomm’s components.

Apple’s decision to exclude Qualcomm chips in its devices next year isn’t set in stone, the Journal reported this morning, and the company could conceivably wait until June to decide on a supplier for the next iPhone.

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