Qualcomm Accuses Apple Of Pro-Intel Trade Secret Theft

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In short: Qualcomm accused Apple of trade secret theft, having filed a lawsuit against the Cupertino-based electronics giant that alleges the company stole a large number of its protected modem technologies and provided them to Intel with the goal of improving the modems made by its rival, ultimately benefitting the new iPhone models. The litigation was filed with the Superior Court in San Diego and is the latest episode in the legal fight between the two technology juggernauts that started last year after the iPhone maker accused Qualcomm of unfair patent licensing practices.

Background: Apple has been phasing out Qualcomm modems from its devices for several product generations now and managed to completely eliminate them from its products with the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max announced earlier this month. The latest iOS smartphones from the company are solely reliant on Intel modems, chips that allow them to communicate with cellular networks. Qualcomm already sued Apple last year after the firm refused to provide it with its modem source code for auditing purposes. The new lawsuit is consequently an evolution of the original one, albeit its allegations are significantly more serious.

Impact: While it's been less than a year since Qualcomm's senior leadership indicated it believes the beef with Apple will be settled in the near future, the latest turn of events makes that scenario unlikely. As the clash between the two technology giants is only becoming more intense over time, iOS devices may end up being at a disadvantage once 5G becomes more widely available in the United States as Qualcomm remains at the forefront of the next generation of connectivity in terms of R&D. That state of affairs and the mounting number of lawsuits are increasing the pressure on Apple to settle but it remains to be seen how the iPhone maker reacts given its lack of experience with being bullied by one of its (former) suppliers.

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