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Apple to tweak China iPhones in compliance with Qualcomm court ruling

Hong Kong

APPLE will push a software update to Chinese iPhone users early next week, aiming to modify functions that a Chinese court found had infringed on a pair of key Qualcomm patents.

The US company said it was taking that step to ensure it complies fully with the ruling, which resulted in sales injunctions against six older versions of Apple's most important device. The iPhone maker said the planned update would address features covered by patents, which involve adjusting photographs and managing apps via a touchscreen.

The Chinese court's ruling handed an initial victory to Qualcomm, which is locked in a worldwide dispute with Apple over the licensing fees it charges for the use of technology that underpins all modern phone systems. The iPhone maker argues that the San Diego-based company abuses its position as the biggest supplier of smartphone chips, while Qualcomm counters that Apple is using its intellectual property with-out paying for it.

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"Based on the iPhone models we offer today in China, we believe we are in compliance," Apple said in a messaged statement. "To address any possible concern about our compliance with the order, early next week we will deliver a software update for iPhone users in China addressing the minor functionality of the two patents at issue in the case."

The ruling from a Chinese court - which came as Washington and Beijing embark on sensitive trade negotiations - pivots the battle over patent fees to the world's largest mobile arena. Apple argues that a Chinese ban will force it to settle its bruising battle with Qualcomm - an outcome that may harm the country's smartphone industry by hiking licensing fees. BLOOMBERG