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Qualcomm demands Intel share documents for iPhone and iPad modems

In a continuation of its U.S. International Trade Commission patent fight with Apple over radio communications, Qualcomm has filed a motion for Intel to hand over documentation relating to cellular modem designs used in iPhones, claiming Intel has dragged its heels in providing the documents it had previously agreed to produce.

A motion filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, filed on July 27 by Qualcomm's legal team and found by The Register, claims Intel was asked to provide documents and testimony relating to its components used in iPhones that may be "functionally relevant" to Qualcomm's patent infringement claims.

More specifically, the requested items were relating to Intel's radio-based components used, or planned for use, in Apple's mobile devices from 2016 to 2018. While Intel has complied for RF components used in Apple devices from 2016 and 2017, the company is accused of failing to provide details for parts that may be used in Apple's 2018 hardware.

"While the parties reached an agreement on document production, Intel reneged on that agreement," accuses Qualcomm in the motion. After a number of meetings and other communications between parties, Intel "appeared willing to cooperate" on the matter on May 18, but is said to have gone "back on its word" after failing to hand over the documentation two months later.

Qualcomm also complains Intel is refusing to comply with an associated subpoena for a deposition about the components. According to the filing, Intel claims the demand is burdensome, as some individuals required for the deposition live abroad, but Qualcomm believes videoconferencing would be a suitable solution.

Another supposed argument from Intel against providing the 2018-related component data is that it relates to "future, unreleased products," such as the annual iPhone refresh expected this fall. Qualcomm claims this is not valid, suggesting Intel has widely publicized the components and commercially released them, as well as citing March's iPad refresh as a 2018 product launch that would feasibly use such products.

"There is nothing future, hidden, or speculative about Intel's 2018 RF components about which Qualcomm seeks discovery," the filing notes.

The filing is the latest in the long-running legal dispute between Qualcomm and Apple over modems and royalties, which includes multiple lawsuits in numerous countries. Under the ITC complaint, Qualcomm claims Apple infringes on a number of patents, including communication patents supposedly infringed by modems it uses.

As part of the complaint, Qualcomm asked the ITC to block the imports of iPhones using Intel modems that may be infringing on the patents. Consumer groups responded in June by suing Qualcomm, filing a motion to prevent the block and claiming an import ban would amplify anticompetitive behavior.

The ITC action follows another lawsuit against Qualcomm by the Federal Trade Commission in January 2017, accusing the company of forcing Apple into an exclusivity deal to buy baseband chips between 2011 and 2016, in return for lower licensing fees. At around the same time, Apple filed its own lawsuit, accusing Qualcomm of withholding close to $1 billion in payments in retaliation for "responding truthfully to law enforcement agencies," in reference to the FTC probe into the chip producer.

Qualcomm responded in April 2017 with a countersuit against Apple, accusing it of using the courts to secure lower licensing fees for its technology.