Qualcomm has won an important legal victory as part of its multi-tiered legal battle against Apple: The Cupertino consumer electronics giant was found to have violated three Qualcomm patents and must pay the first $31 million in damages.

“The technologies invented by Qualcomm and others are what made it possible for Apple to enter the market and become so successful so quickly,” Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg said in a statement. “We are gratified that courts all over the world are rejecting Apple’s strategy of refusing to pay for the use of our IP.”

Apple wasn’t quite as pleased with the verdict.

“Qualcomm’s ongoing campaign of patent infringement claims is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the larger issues they face with investigations into their business practices in U.S. federal court, and around the world,” an Apple statement notes.  I will simply point out how the Apple statement here mirrors Apple’s rebuttal of Spotify’s complaints in that it redirects the conversation to another topic. In other words, Apple knows exactly what it did there.

Which is this: Apple stole Qualcomm-patented technologies for use in iPhones and other mobile devices and did so without compensating the inventor of those technologies.

Worse, a former Apple engineer who was going to testify that it was he who invented a key idea for one of Qualcomm’s patented technologies reversed course during the trial and refused to take the stand after it became clear that there was no evidence to support the claim.

Aside from the specifics of the outcome and the paltry $31 million payment that Apple must make—chump change for a company with Apple’s resources—this case does, in fact, represent a major turning point in the two companies’ legal battles because it puts a per-device dollar figure on Qualcomm’s intellectual property: The three patented components represent about $1.41 per device, which Qualcomm says debunks Apple’s claim that its licensing fees are too high.

“The three patents found to be infringed in this case represent just a small fraction of Qualcomm’s valuable portfolio of tens of thousands of patents,” Mr. Rosenberg added.

Apple and Qualcomm have other court cases to come, including a trial that is scheduled for April. That case involves Apple’s dispute over Qualcomm’s licensing costs.

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