Excellent News, China Bans iPhone Sales Over Qualcomm IP Complaint


China, or at least a Chinese court, has agreed with Qualcomm that some to many iPhone models contain IP from that company. As Apple isn’t paying for that IP then the iPhones cannot be sold in China. This is simply excellent news and should be celebrated as such.

No, this isn’t because we hate Apple nor because we love Qualcomm. Rather, because this means that China is taking intellectual property seriously which is exactly what we do want to be happening. In fact, this has been a demand for a couple of decades now, that China should, must, take IP seriously. So, they are, that’s good, right?

Yes, this is good:

Apple was down about 2 percent Monday morning after a Chinese court banned the import and sale of most iPhone models in the country as part of an injunction. Qualcomm requested the injunction for alleged patent violation and announced the news in a statement Monday morning. Qualcomm alleged that Apple violated two patents it holds on features that lets users reformat the size and appearance of photos and manage applications on a touch screen when navigating through phone apps. The two preliminary injunctions were granted by the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in China. Apple says it did not violate these patents and that the ban goes beyond the scope of the injunction itself.

The specific actions? No, they’re not necessarily good. Nor are we passing any comment upon the validity of Qualcomm’s case.

A Chinese court has banned the sale and import of most iPhone models in a stunning decision sure to escalate the nasty trade war between the United States and China. The court granted a pair of preliminary injunctions requested by Qualcomm, an American microchip maker. Qualcomm claims that Apple violates two of its patents in the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. The patents allow people to edit and resize photos on a phone and to manage apps by using a touchscreen, according to Qualcomm.

Rather, our interest, our approval, centres upon the basic point here, that China is taking IP complaints seriously.

Recall what one of Donald Trump’s complaints about China is. That it rips off US intellectual property. And there’s no doubt that such has happened at least at times. Our own view of such IP rules is that they shouldn’t apply to poor places. Sure, IP is important to a modern economy but that’s rather the point about poor places, they’ve not got a modern economy. Making them pay full price for IP doesn’t work as they’ve not got the cash anyway. That means they’ll remain poor as they can’t use those modern technologies.

Another way of describing a modern economy is one which produces IP, has locally made IP to protect. At which point, if they’re making local IP then they’ve got something which it is worth their protecting with IP laws. China is rather past this point. Thus, rationally, they should be protecting IP. Including foreign IP. For that’s the way it works – sure, a poor place can rip off foreign IP but a richer one has its own to protect and therefore needs to protect at least that local production. But that means protecting foreign too – not least because foreigners will rip off locally produced IP unless foreign is protected locally.

So, China is now protecting IP. That’s good, they’re protecting foreign IP, that’s even better. That’s some way to solving one of our major complaints about the Chinese economy, that it doesn’t protect IP.

Great, China dinging Apple for using Qualcomm’s intellectual property is a Good Thing then, yes?

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