A U.S. trade judge on Friday declined to block the importation of Apple Inc. iPhones with chips from Intel Corp., handing a major defeat to Qualcomm Inc. in its high-stakes legal dispute with the iPhone maker.
A U.S. International Trade Commission judge said Apple's phones infringed one Qualcomm patent related to power management technology, but denied the chipmaker's request for a ban on the import of some iPhones into the United States.
Thomas Pender, an administrative law judge at the ITC, said that "public interest factors" weighed against granting Qualcomm's request for a ban.
The determination will be reviewed by other judges, and Qualcomm has another pending patent case against Apple before the ITC.
Apple said in a statement that Qualcomm had unfairly demanded royalties for technologies it had nothing to do with.
"We’re glad the ITC stopped Qualcomm’s attempt to damage competition and ultimately harm innovators and U.S. consumers,” Apple said.
A Qualcomm spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple and Qualcomm are locked in a wide-ranging legal dispute in which Apple has accused Qualcomm of unfair patent licensing practices. Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile phone chipmaker, has in turn accused Apple of patent infringement.
San Diego, California-based Qualcomm initiated an ITC case against Apple in July 2017, alleging that iPhones containing Intel chips infringed six patents describing technology that helps smartphones perform well without draining the battery.
Qualcomm did not allege that Intel chips violate its patents, but claimed that the way Apple implemented them in the iPhone does.
The ITC is a popular venue for patent disputes because it handles cases relatively quickly and can more easily bar an infringing product from the U.S. market than federal courts.
Qualcomm dropped three of the six patents from the case before a trial that began in June.
Pender said in Friday's decision that Apple infringed only one of the three patents remaining in the case.
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