QUALCOMM AND APPLE have not been on each others' respective Christmas card list for a long time and the latest twist in the saga - a claim that Apple is some $7bn behind on its royalty payments - is unlikely to make the two kiss and make up any faster.
The size of Apple's alleged debt was revealed in a San Diego federal court last week, and it's a figure that Apple disputes, naturally. The $7bn figure relates to Qualcomm parts that powered past iPhones - unsurprisingly given the current dispute, the two aren't working together any more.
Given Apple is now a trillion dollar company, settling this would be pretty trivial for the iPhone maker, but that won't be happening any time soon. The dispute dates back to 2017 when Apple accused Qualcomm of charging more than it should on patents "for technologies they have nothing to do with." This triggered a series of suits and countersuits which remain unresolved to this day.
"Despite being just one of over a dozen companies who contributed to basic cellular standards, Qualcomm insists on charging Apple at least five times more in payments than all the other cellular patent licensors we have agreements with combined," Apple argued at the time.
Over the intervening months, the dispute has got pretty heated. That'll happen when one side tries to get its rival's patents invalidated, while the other has attempted to get the iPhone banned in both China and the USA. It's still rumbling on. Just last month, Qualcomm hit back, accusing Apple of stealing technology from its chips to make inferior Intel ones better.
It all feels very petty, but when billions of dollars are at stake, it's probably best to pay lawyers the big bucks to ensure your petty argument is the one that wins the day. That day still feels some way away at this point, mind. µ
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