Apple set to pull some iPhones from its German stores after Qualcomm enforces ban

(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is likely to pull some iPhone models from its German stores after Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) said on Thursday it had posted security bonds to enforce a court order banning the sale of those iPhone models in the country.

FILE PHOTO: Customers stand in line at the Apple store in Berlin, September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Hannibal

The chipmaker posted the bonds of 1.34 billion euros ($1.52 billion) as part of a legal requirement by a German court, which found on Dec. 20 that Apple had infringed Qualcomm patents on power-saving technology used in smartphones.

The iPhone maker had earlier said it would pull iPhone 7 and 8 models from its 15 stores in Germany when the order came into force. The order took effect when Qualcomm posted the bond.

The German case is Qualcomm’s third major effort to secure a ban on Apple’s lucrative iPhones over patent-infringement allegations after similar moves in the U.S. and China, and is part of a global patent spat between the two companies.

According to the court order, Apple has to stop the sale, offer for sale and importation for sale of all infringing iPhones in Germany. Apple had said it was appealing the decision.

When contacted by Reuters on Thursday, a spokesman for Apple in Germany, in e-mailed comments, reiterated the group was planning to appeal and that during the appeal process iPhone 7 and 8 models would not be available at its stores.

The court also ordered Apple to recall the affected iPhones from third-party resellers in Germany, according to a statement by Qualcomm.

In its previous statement on the decision, Apple had said it would continue to offer all of its phones at thousands of retail and carrier locations across Germany, a direct contradiction to Qualcomm’s interpretation of the order.

“All iPhone models remain available to customers through carriers and resellers in 4,300 locations across Germany,” the Apple spokesman said on Thursday.

German reseller Gravis said it was still selling the iPhone 7 and 8 models at its stores as well as online.

Apple has not explained why it believed it could continue to sell the affected phones through German resellers.

The Munich regional court was not immediately available for comment.

Apple’s announced intention to pull iPhones from stores in Germany contrasts with how it has handled a court decision in China, where there was a much broader ban on iPhone sales after a court ruled the devices violated Qualcomm’s patents. Apple has continued to sell phones in China, saying it believed its phones were legal there.

Still, Apple also pushed a software update to address concerns over whether it was in compliance with the Chinese courts.

Qualcomm has said those software updates were insufficient and that Apple must still pull its phones. Apple had filed a request for the Chinese court to reconsider its decision, but no outcome has been announced.

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru, Stephen Nellis in San Francisco, Joern Poltz in Munich, Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Petra Haverkamp in Berlin; Editing by Bernard Orr, Bernadette Baum and Mark Potter

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