In the latest in a series of tit-for-tat patent battles between Apple and Qualcomm, the chip-maker Qualcomm has requested that the US International Trade Commission bans imports of Apple's iPhone. Qualcomm alleges that the iPhone infringes six of its patents relating to extending the battery life of a smartphone.

This escalation of the lawsuits between Apple and Qualcomm follows suits being filed at the beginning of the year against Qualcomm by both Apple and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These earlier suits alleged that Qualcomm was charging Apple a disproportionate amount for use of its patents relating to smartphone modems. Apple and the FTC contend that these patents are standards essential patents and so should be licensed on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (“FRAND”) terms. Apple and the FTC allege that the licence was not subject to these FRAND terms.

Qualcomm subsequently filed a counterclaim against Apple and in June Apple filed a request to invalidate a number of Qualcomm's patents.

The latest action filed by Qualcomm therefore puts them on the offensive in trying to gain the upper hand in these cases. It will be interesting to see how many of these cases actually go to court or whether, like many other parties involved in patent litigation in the smartphone arena in recent years, a cooperative settlement is reached to avoid the expense of litigation.