A Chinese court has ordered a sales ban of some older Apple Inc iPhone models in China for violating two patents of chipmaker Qualcomm Inc, though intellectual property lawyers said enforcement of the ban was likely still a distant threat.
The case, brought by Qualcomm, is part of a global patent dispute between the two U.S. companies that includes dozens of lawsuits. It creates uncertainty over Apple's business in one of its biggest markets at a time when concerns over waning demand for new iPhones are battering its shares.
Apple said on Monday that all of its phone models remained on sale in mainland China and that it had filed a request for reconsideration with the court, the first step in a long appeal process that could end up at China's Supreme Court.
"It's incredibly unlikely, I'd say almost impossible (that Apple would have to stop sales)," said a Beijing-based IP lawyer who is not directly connected with the Qualcomm case but has worked with large U.S. tech firms.
"In all likelihood it will drag on for some time. It's worth keeping in mind that this is just one battle in a larger rift", he said, referring to the legal fight between Qualcomm and Apple that stretches from European courts to South Korea.
Qualcomm said in a statement the Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court in China found Apple infringed two patents held by the chipmaker and ordered an immediate ban on sales of older iPhone models, from the 6S through the X.
Apple said the trio of new models released in September were not part of the case.
"Qualcomm's effort to ban our products is another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world," Apple said.
Reuters couldn't immediately reach the court for comment.
China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are Apple's third-largest market, accounting for about one-fifth of Apple's $265.6 billion in sales in its most recent fiscal year.
Qualcomm, the biggest supplier of chips for mobile phones, filed its case in China in late 2017, arguing that Apple infringed patents on features related to resizing photographs and managing apps on a touch screen.
COURT BATTLE OVER DETAILS
In July, the same court banned the import of some microchips by Micron Technology Inc into China, citing violation of patents held by Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp (UMC).
In the provincial Chinese court, which is separate from China's specialized intellectual property courts in Beijing, one party can request a ban on an opponent's product without the opponent getting a chance to present a defense.
IP lawyers said that an appeal process could take the case up to the Fujian provincial high court and then go as far as the Supreme Court in Beijing, a process that would likely take many months given the high-profile nature of the case. To enforce the ban, Qualcomm separately will have to file complaints in what is known as an enforcement tribunal, where Apple will also have a chance to appeal.
Yiqiang Li, a patent lawyer at Faegre Baker Daniels, said the Chinese injunction could put pressure on Apple to reach a global settlement with Qualcomm.
Apple shares rose less than 1 percent to $169.60, recovering from an early drop when it became clear phones were still on sale, and Qualcomm stock rose 2.2 percent to $57.24.
TRADE WAR IMPACT?
The ruling comes as Beijing and Washington are locked in a tense trade dispute. The two sides have agreed to trade negotiations that must be concluded by March 1. While IP lawyers said the case wasn't directly political, most agreed it could be drawn into broader Sino-U.S. trade tensions, where technology and IP have been a core focus.
The specific iPhone models affected by the preliminary ruling in China are the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. Erick Robinson, a patent lawyer in Beijing and former Qualcomm lawyer, said that while Chinese courts had become fairer in recent years, nationalism could sometimes be a factor in rulings.
Qualcomm is a key technology vendor to China's rising smart phone brands such as Xiaomi Corp, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus, while Apple competes directly against Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], China's top homegrown maker of premium-priced smartphones, whose CFO was arrested this month for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions.
"There is probably a political play here. Apple is a direct competitor to the biggest companies in China, whereas Qualcomm is a supplier," Robinson said.
Qualcomm officials said tensions between the two nations had no bearing on the ruling. The company has had its share of troubles in China, from an unfavorable 2014 antitrust ruling to regulatory limbo that doomed its $44 billion bid for Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors.
Uber Technologies Inc is planning to integrate into its app the bus and Tube timetables of Transport for London, the government body in charge of the capital's transport network, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The move would put Uber into direct competition with venture capital-backed start-up Citymapper, the report said.
Uber did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment outside regular business hours.
Investors will need to weather more volatility in order to capture opportunities in 2019, according to the Year Ahead report from UBS, the world’s leading wealth manager.
Global economic growth will decelerate next year to 3.6% from 3.8% in 2018, and company earnings will grow at a slower rate. However, a 2019 recession still looks unlikely, and the price of many financial assets has already moved to reflect uncertain prospects.
UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office (CIO) enters the year with an overweight position in global equities. However, as the market cycle matures, investors should diversify and hedge their portfolios to guard against volatility as well as political and other risks. They should also take advantage of growth in fields like sustainable and impact investing, and pockets of value where financial asset prices are excessively low.
Mark Haefele, Chief Investment Officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, says: “Investors should retain positions in global equities but plan for market volatility. A slight slowdown in economic and earnings growth doesn’t mean no growth, and the recent sell-off has left a number of assets more attractively valued, but investors must also take into account the tense geopolitical environment as well as monetary policy tightening.”
In its investment process, CIO seeks to test its ideas against professional investors’ views. Surveys of professional investors and wealthy US-based individuals reveal divergent outlooks for the year ahead.
Close to half of professional investors see the US lagging global markets next year, while two-thirds of individual investors surveyed expect US stocks to match or beat global equities.
Nearly half of the professionals surveyed anticipate the US dollar declining versus the euro, compared with less than one-sixth of individual investors.
The most popular asset class for professional investors entering the new year is emerging market equities. For individual investors the top pick is US stocks. Professional investors are nevertheless more optimistic than individual investors on how much upside remains in the US equity bull market.
Few professionals regard US political risk as a bigger threat than US-China trade tensions and higher interest rates. Individual investors are more concerned about US political risks than professionals are.
When asked when the next recession will start, the most common answer among professional investors is 2021. Half of the individual investors surveyed expect the next recession to start within two years.
CIO recommends that investors should retain an overweight position in global equities as we enter 2019. Nevertheless, they should also hedge against volatility by holding overweight positions in medium-duration US government bonds and the Japanese yen, as well as focusing on quality companies and avoiding excessive credit risk. They should also look to neglected areas of the market, including value stocks in the US and emerging markets, energy equities globally, and shares of financial companies in the US and China. Sustainable and impact investing continues to provide longer-term growth opportunities, as do emerging market and Japanese stocks, and US dollar-denominated emerging market sovereign bonds.
The US Federal Reserve should approach the end of its tightening cycle in 2019, while the support from US fiscal stimulus should wane. In this context, the US’s twin fiscal and current account deficits will likely weigh on the US dollar. Within Latin America, investors should keep an eye on Brazil, where the incoming administration has proposed a range of reforms that could improve the country’s fiscal sustainability.
Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) & Switzerland
The European Central Bank should start to normalize interest rates in 2019, which would support the euro against the greenback. A clear recovery by the euro is needed before the Swiss National Bank will hike rates, although the Swiss franc has limited scope to depreciate against the euro. Within emerging EMEA, CIO sees the recent sell off in crude oil prices as overdone, and expects prices to rise towards USD 85 / barrel over the next six to 12 months, supporting prospects for the Middle East. However, investors should continue to diversify globally to avoid idiosyncratic political risks in emerging EMEA as well as the Eurozone and the UK, which is scheduled to leave the European Union next year.
The Chinese yuan should continue to decline, easing 5% in trade-weighted terms against a backdrop of ongoing US-China trade tensions, slowing Chinese economic growth, and a diminishing current account surplus. By contrast, in the wake of Japan’s Abenomics program, the yen is more than 30% undervalued relative to its estimated equilibrium on a purchasing power parity basis. Japanese bond yields could also rise as the Bank of Japan embarks on a slow normalization of monetary policy.
Source: Business Insider
The Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) did not grant Nigeria further exemption in the current output cut deal because the country did not request for further exemption.
Kachikwu, who stated this in an interview with THISDAY, said: “We didn’t ask for exemption; we wanted to make sure everybody shared in the pain. If some happenstance occur, you are expected to come back to ask for exemption”.
It would be recalled that OPEC and their non-OPEC allies agreed to cut their outputs by 1.2 million barrels of oil per day (mbd), with OPEC countries accounting for 800,000 barrels a day (bpd) of the cut, while non-OPEC will cut 400,000 bpd.
According to Kachikwu, Nigeria could contribute up to 40,000 bpd to the 800,000 bpd OPEC will take out, representing about 2.5 per cent of the 1.7mbpd current production level of Nigeria.
On the output deal negotiations, Kachikwu said: “We had to navigate that. Nigeria had the unique responsibility of having to navigate the Saudis who we get along very well with, and the Iranians, who we get along very well with, and then try to sort of forge them to decide over and by the time we left yesterday (Thursday), some had agreed on the volume of cuts; some on the concept of cut or whether or not the language will be written into the resolution that will be announced.
“It was more of the mechanics of how do you present it to the market as opposed to the substance of the resolution itself and that was what we broke yesterday and decided to take a break and come back with cool heads today.
“If you are a unique country and your unique circumstances require that you will be given attention in a particular month to be exempted from that cut, you will write to the President of the OPEC Assembly and he will review that and come up with a decision,” Kachikwu explained.
Source: The Ripples