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Qualcomm accuses Apple of stealing modem secrets and passing them to Intel for new iPhone chips

Updated 4 years ago
Published Sep 25th, 2018 10:48AM EDT
Apple vs. Qualcomm
Image: DENIS POROY/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Qualcomm is back with another claim in the complex Apple vs. Qualcomm battle, as the latter has accused Apple of stealing “vast swaths” of its confidential information and trade secrets, and then sharing code with Intel to improve the modems Intel made for Apple’s new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Qualcomm filed the new allegations against Apple, CNBC reports. The company had already been arguing that Apple has breached the master software agreement between the two companies and wants the court to amend the new complaint to the existing lawsuit.

For a recap, Qualcomm filed a suit against Apple this past November alleging that the company violated the agreement it signed with Qualcomm — a deal that requires the iPhone maker to allow Qualcomm to periodically ensure that the source code and tools it’s sharing with Apple are protected. The chip maker said that Apple has been preventing Qualcomm from auditing the use of its code. Now, it wants to add this new complaint to the case, alleging that Apple passed along proprietary information to Intel so it could to improve the modem chips used in Apple’s new iPhones.

Qualcomm explains that it’s filing its complaint against Apple only now because it has just discovered Apple’s alleged wrongdoing while going through emails between Apple and Intel engineers that were provided to Qualcomm during discovery in the current case. Per CNBC, Apple engineers repeatedly provided source code and other confidential information to Intel so they could improve Intel’s chips. What kind of information? Who shared it with who? Those questions remain unanswered.

The report also says that Qualcomm is looking to put pressure on Apple to settle, but Qualcomm’s general counsel Donald Rosenberg said in a statement that this case stands on its own and would have been filed regardless of the ongoing dispute between the two companies.

Interestingly enough, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf was taped on Bloomberg TV only yesterday talking about settling with Apple: “The environment is such that a deal could get done.”

Apple has previously provided the following statement in regards to Qualcomm’s accusations against the company:

“Qualcomm’s illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry.  They supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products – effectively taxing Apple’s innovation.

We believe deeply in the value of intellectual property but we shouldn’t have to pay them for technology breakthroughs they have nothing to do with. We’ve always been willing to pay a fair rate for standard technology used in our products and since they’ve refused to negotiate reasonable terms we’re asking the courts for help.”

Article updated for clarity.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.