Qualcomm has accused Apple of infringing on some of its wireless technology patents, but said it was limiting its request so as to reduce the economic impact on Apple.
The complaint alleges that "Apple has engaged in the unlawful importation and sale of iPhones that infringe one or more claims of six Qualcomm patents covering key technologies that enable important features and functions in iPhones".
“Qualcomm’s inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice-president and general counsel of Qualcomm.
Qualcomm also filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Southern District of California alleging that Apple infringes the same six patents. The complaint seeks damages and injunctive relief.
In the US case, Apple has accused Qualcomm of charging it "at least five times more in payments that all the other cellular patent licensors we have agreements with combined".
The two China lawsuits accuse Qualcomm of abusing its power in the processor industry and failing to honour promises to broadly license standard essential patents at a reasonable price.
Qualcomm's move comes as Apple prepares for the release, later this year, of its 10th anniversary iPhone. However, given the time that the Federal Trade Commission takes to rule on such requests, it is unlikely that it will have any impact on the new devices.
Qualcomm said it expected the ITC investigation to begin in August and the case to be tried in 2018.