updated 05:17 pm EST, Thu December 13, 2012
Qualcomm concerned with release of business-confidential info
A letter condemning Apple as a habitual patent infringer filed by Qualcomm with the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has been completely withdrawn by the communications chip manufacturer. Qualcomm claims the letter wasn't "appropriately authorized" and that it doesn't want the commission to consider the submission in any way, and to act if it never received the missive.
The withdrawal letter, filed with the USITC yesterday, begins with the following: "As a result of an inadvertent error, a submission was made in Qualcomm's name on December 10, 2012 that had not been appropriately authorized, and that Qualcomm would not wish the Commission to consider. Accordingly, Qualcomm withdraws that submission, requests that the Commission give it no consideration, and requests that it be treated as though it had never been made. Qualcomm relies solely on its previous submission in this matter of December 3, 2012."
The retraction continues: "In addition, Qualcomm respectfully requests that the December 10, 2012 submission be immediately and permanently removed from the public record, both because it inadvertently threatens disclosure of confidential business information (CBI) relating to Qualcomm's business relationships, continuing disclosure of which will harm Qualcomm, and because it was filed without appropriate authorization."
The previous letter had been filed on Qualcomm's behalf without proper vetting by the law firm of Cravath, Swaine, and Moore, known for its defense work with IBM. Electronista has spoken with a source familiar with the New York law firm and the original Qualcomm letter, who contradicted the retraction notification, saying that the law firm "released the statement co-written by Qualcomm and the firm's attorneys properly and with authorization."
The original filing tore into Apple, saying that the computer manufacturer "should be embarrassed" at the length and depth of its patent infringement, without offering any specific examples. Qualcomm and other stakeholders were encouraged, but not required, to comment on a few questions the ITC commission posed in an Apple versus Samsung complaint. Submitters were asked to remark on the availability of injunctive relief over standards-essential patents, and the criteria for a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) royalty rate.
Qualcomm's business model depends heavily on licensing SEP patents, though it does also manufacture parts and devices. A ruling favorable to Apple's argument that SEP patents should be excluded from litigation and negotiated on a FRAND basis would be harmful to Qualcomm's interests, even though Apple is one of Qualcomm's largest customers.