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Qualcomm seeks to halt Apple's sales & manufacturing of iPhones in China

By Roger Fingas

Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm has filed multiple lawsuits in China, looking to block both sales and manufacturing of iPhones in the country -- something that would cripple Apple worldwide, if successful.

The suits were filed through a Beijing intellectual property court and allege patent infringement, Bloomberg reported on Friday. It wasn't immediately clear what patents are involved.

The two companies are involved in a global legal battle, however, kickstarted by a South Korean antitrust ruling last year. Apple subsequently sued Qualcomm, accusing it of withholding nearly $1 billion in rebates as retaliation for cooperating with Korean officials. Since then Apple has ordered its suppliers to stop paying royalties, and Qualcomm has launched countersuits.

Various government bodies have pursued Qualcomm over its business practices, like Apple accusing it of abusing market dominance to impose unfair terms. Most recently the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission leveled a $773 million fine, also forcing the company to remove offending terms from earlier client contracts.

Apple can't afford to lose the Chinese suits, as the iPhone is its primary revenue source, and the vast majority of units are assembled in China before being shipped elsewhere. Manufacturing in India is in its earliest stages, limited to the iPhone SE.

It will likely take weeks or months before Chinese legal action makes progress. Apple will probably fight to have the cases dismissed if at all possible.

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