Apple has been trying to get a court to agree that Qualcomm should allow it to use its patents for a price it says since 2017 without much luck. In this case, the Supremes left in place a lower court's decision against Apple after similarly turning away in June the company's appeal of a lower court ruling in a closely related case challenging two other Qualcomm patents.
For those who came in late Qualcomm sued Apple in San Diego federal court in 2017, arguing that its iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches infringed a variety of mobile-technology patents. That case was part of a broader global dispute between the tech giants. Apple challenged the validity of the patents at issue in this case at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board.
The companies settled their underlying fight in 2019, signing an agreement worth billions of dollars that let Apple continue using Qualcomm chips in iPhones.
The settlement included an Apple license to thousands of Qualcomm patents, but allowed the patent-board proceedings to continue. The board upheld the patents in 2020, and Apple appealed to the patent-specialist US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Cupertino, Apple argued it had proper legal standing to appeal because San Diego-based Qualcomm could sue again after the license expires, potentially as soon as 2025.