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Apple v. Qualcomm jury includes pilot, former MLB pitcher, retired nurse


A pilot, a former baseball pitcher and a retired nurse enter a bar …

It may seem like the beginning of a bad joke, but they are actually some of the professions of the jury selected for the Apple v. Trial. Qualcomm in San Diego. Those nine people will decide the fate of Qualcomm's licensing business in its battle against Apple and its manufacturing partners.

Monday marked the start of the five-week, $ 27 billion test that will determine whether Qualcomm operates a smart phone modem chip monopoly and charges too much in license fees. The trial before the jury is being discussed before the United States District Court Judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel, of the Southern District of California in San Diego. The result could affect which wireless networks your phone uses.

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Apple accused Qualcomm of anticompetitive practices that increased chip prices, restricted competition and impaired customer choice. Qualcomm has responded that the iPhone would not be possible without its technology and deserves to be paid for its innovation.

The selection of the jury took all day Monday. The selected people ended up being moderately young, quite diverse and well educated (not all people are retired white males). Of the nine juries, three are women. Only half of the group members are white, and only two are retired.

A jury is a retired clinical psychologist who advised children suffering from terminal illnesses. After retiring from his private practice, he worked with UnitedHealthcare in the investigation of suicide attempts and suicide.

Another man is a former professional pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. Now he works as an air traffic controller in San Diego. A third man on the jury is a pilot, and another jury has an MBA in retail sales management and works at a power tool company.

One of the three women on the jury is an environmental consultant who helps companies comply with the Clean Water Law. Another woman is an accountant and the third is a retired nurse who instructed other nurses about home health care practices. The nurse, an African American woman also with an MBA, jokingly told Judge Curiel that she saw some headlines about the story in the newspaper, but decided not to read them.

"Yesterday there was another article that I did not read either," he said.

"Excellent!" Curiel responded while talking to the rest of the potential jury group. "I want you to model your behavior after the number one jury."

The potential jury group had several people with a technology background. A couple has done a job with military related to cellular technology. One even partnered with Qualcomm in a military project that ultimately failed. Another is an IT solutions architect who was setting up a private LTE network for his company.

All people with a degree in engineering or technology experience were fired, except one man who previously worked for the Department of Defense. Now he works in metrology, measures the levels of radiation for safety and calibrates the equipment to make sure it works correctly.

The sixth man of the jury did not discuss his profession during the selection process.

History of the battle

Apple, which initially filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm in January 2017, argues that it essentially pays Qualcomm twice, first by purchasing processors and then paying royalties. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company says it should pay fees based solely on the cost of the wireless chip inside its iPhones. The partners of Apple, Foxconn and Pegatron, who assemble their devices, agree and joined the demand. Qualcomm responds that it is not a monopoly and says that its technology is more than modems, so it must be compensated according to the sale price of the phone itself.

Tens of billions of dollars are at stake in the case. Apple's manufacturing partners want a $ 9 billion refund for alleged excess royalty payments since 2013. According to the antitrust law, that amount could triple. Qualcomm wants its own damages for breach of contract, although it has not detailed the amount. An even greater concern for Qualcomm is whether it will have to change its entire business model, charging much lower royalties based on the price of its chips instead of the phones they are on.

For consumers, this battle in progress could result in iPhone connectivity speeds that can not match those of Android devices. The current provider of Apple modems, Intel, does not yet have a 5G chip ready. Qualcomm is the only option for mobile phone manufacturers that want to take advantage of the ultrafast wireless network this year. We may not see IPhone 5G until 2020 or even 2021. If Qualcomm and Apple can not solve their problems, it is unlikely that Apple will have Qualcomm modems on their iPhones again in the short term. Even if Apple is successful in its quest to lower Qualcomm's licensing fees, it is very unlikely that Apple will reduce the prices of its iPhone and pass the savings to consumers.

The court will continue on Tuesday with the initial arguments and the first witnesses of Apple. He will call Tony Blevins, Apple's vice president of purchasing, in person and will also play several video statements.

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