Popular Android chip maker Qualcomm has sued Apple accusing the Cupertino based company of infringing on its terms of licence. Qualcomm claims that Apple used its access to Qualcomm's proprietary software to help its rival - Intel. The chip maker alleges that Apple has failed to protect its proprietary software and is not allowing an audit of how Apple handles its software, something which is part of Qualcomm’s contract. Qualcomm claims that an Intel engineer was included in the distribution list of a mail which requested proprietary information. Bloomberg also reports that an Apple engineer working with a competitor also requested information from a colleague on Qualcomm's data download technology.
This lawsuit comes just days after reports came in of Apple planning to drop Qualcomm chipsets altogether. Qualcomm, which is the leading supplier of gigabit LTE modems, has been an Apple partner for almost a decade now. Apple accounts for 7.5 percent of the total Qualcomm revenue. However, if Apple does cut off ties with Qualcomm, then it would be relying on Intel’s Gigabit modem for the job, which is believed to use inferior technology compared to the Qualcomm’s mobile modem. Moreover, it was reported last year that Apple did deliberately slow down the iPhone 7 phones running Qualcomm modems to match models featuring Intel modems.
This is not all, Apple and Qualcomm have been battling for more than a year now. In July, Qualcomm filed another lawsuit against Apple citing patent infringement and asking the court to ban import of iPhones. In the July lawsuit, Qualcomm alleged that Apple was infringing its patents issued between 2013 and 2017. These patents include underpinnings of enabling high-speed performance and extended battery life on any smartphone and some patents related to gaming and streaming.
Then there is the licensing fee dispute, where Apple is claiming that Qualcomm charges for essential patents which cover basics of how a phone should work. Essential patents or standard essential patents if you are not aware are something which should be free to use or come with a minor fee. Apple also says that Qualcomm is charging too much and leveraging its dominant position in the market. On the other hand, Qualcomm has countered that Apple is being the bully here and forcing Qualcomm to charge less.
It seems like Apple will be settling some scores with both Qualcomm and maybe Samsung in the future. Will this make your next iPhone cheaper? Well, that’s unlikely.