Qualcomm sought to delay enforcement of a recent judgement ordering it to renegotiate its patent licence agreements, arguing compliance would result in irreparable harm should the ruling be reversed on appeal.

In a filing, Qualcomm said remedies prescribed by the court could easily be enforced at a later date if its bid to overturn the district judge’s decision fails. But if its appeal eventually succeeds, it claimed it would be “impossible” to return to business as usual if it complies with current orders to overhaul its licensing practices.

“Put simply, the stakes are high, and the readily foreseeable harms to Qualcomm and the public interest are neither academic nor hypothetical…After radically restructuring its business relationships, Qualcomm will not be able to return to its pre-injunction business in an orderly fashion.”

The plea comes after a district court judge determined Qualcomm’s licensing practices “strangled competition” in modem chip markets for a number of years, in a case brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). She ordered the company to renegotiate its patent licences, make standards essential patents available to rivals and submit to compliance monitoring for seven years.

A company representative told Mobile World Live Qualcomm will pursue a stay with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals if it is not granted by the district court.

Unlikely ally
In a surprise move earlier in the week, FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson penned an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal in which she called the district judge’s ruling in favour of the agency “both bad law and bad policy”.

She claimed the judge “crafted this remedy by herself” despite offers to consult with the Department of Justice and FTC about appropriate measures, and urged “higher courts to reconsider the wisdom of the judge’s conclusions”.

The FTC’s case against Qualcomm was filed in the final days of Barack Obama’s presidency: Wilson was subsequently appointed by President Donald Trump.