The huge Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) vs Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) war in the tech industry shows no sign of resolving anytime soon, as Qualcomm recently came out with yet another explosive accusation levelled at the smartphone giant. This time around, Qualcomm claim that Apple has been involved in a “multi-year campaign of sloppy, inappropriate and deceitful conduct” in order to steal Qualcomm’s trade secrets and embolden their rival, Intel. The accusation made in a legal filing on Tuesday, seen by Reuters.
The Apple and Qualcomm feud is nothing new and goes back a long way. Back in May of 2017, Dazeinfo reported on the souring of the relationship between these two giants of the tech industry. The basic bone of contention was Apple’s claim that Qualcomm was abusing patent rules to unfairly hike their fees, effectively earning money off of Apple’s hard work and innovation.
Since Qualcomm’s royalty business is by far their most profitable enterprise, they did not take kindly to Apple’s accusations and hit back at them by suing them for $1 billion! Apple, in turn, responded by stopping payments to iPhone manufacturers for royalties owed to Qualcomm. This was a kick in the gut for Qualcomm and had a marked effect on their bottom line. However, instead of buckling, Qualcomm responded in kind by attempting to get certain iPhone models banned from being put up for sale in the US.
Now, it seems like things are about to get even more tenuous between the two companies.
Back in November 2017, Qualcomm filed a complaint accusing Apple of breaking a software license contract regarding sharing of confidential information pertaining to Qualcomm chips with their new partner and Qualcomm rival Intel. Under the terms of a deal the two made in 2010, Qualcomm would provide their code to Apple on the condition that Apple would give it the same level of protection as their own code, and also allow Qualcomm to audit Apple’s security practices and compliance with the agreement. According to the complaint filed by Qualcomm in November, Apple subsequently refused to let Qualcomm do so.
However, Qualcomm has now amended its complaint and escalated it even further. They now claim “breach of contract and trade secret misappropriation”, and are seeking damages to cover earnings lost as well as a punitive measure. The complaint also alleges that source code and software tools were illegally misappropriated by Apple in order to help Intel bring their supposedly inferior chips on par with Qualcomm’s.
On their part, Apple filed a Motion to Compel in this case in late August in order to get Qualcomm to present evidence to back up their allegations. They currently maintain that even Qualcomm’s more recent filing is devoid of any evidence. In turn, Qualcomm is also pointing towards an anonymous internet posting by a supposed ex-Intel employee who claims that they “were told to ignore intellectual property rights when designing the modem”, and that there was “a conspiracy to copy Qualcomm’s technology by hints from Apple about the ‘reference device.'”
This case is now just one of several legal disputes involving these two companies. Both sides have levelled some pretty serious accusations at each other, and both now stand to lose a lot if the courts don’t decide in their favour. It is, therefore, no surprise that recently Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf touched on the possibility of an out of court settlement between the two litigious tech giants.