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With new iPhones using Intel LTE modems, Qualcomm’s CEO wants to settle with Apple

Published Sep 19th, 2018 3:46PM EDT
iPhone LTE Qualcomm
Image: DENIS POROY/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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Despite Tim Cook’s public proclamation that he hates litigation, it’s no secret that Apple has no qualms about engaging in protracted legal battles when it feels it’s in the right. Indeed, we saw this play out during the course of Apple’s legal tussle with Samsung which dragged on for a full seven years before finally settling this past June.

Though the Samsung case is now a thing of the past, Apple currently finds itself embroiled in another high-stakes legal battle, this time with Qualcomm. As a quick refresher, the legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm began as a dispute over royalty payments pertaining to the LTE modems used on the iPhone. Since then, the dispute has exploded into a full-fledged patent litigation suit, with Qualcomm last year filing a number of patent infringement claims against Apple over technologies pertaining to power-management chips, cellular connectivity, and more.

With courtroom battles on the horizon, not to mention exorbitant legal bills, Bloomberg reports that both companies may be open to settling. From Apple’s end, this isn’t terribly surprising as Tim Cook has publicly stated his preference to settle in high-profile litigation cases. And with respect to Qualcomm, CEO Steve Mollenkopf subtly hinted during an interview with Bloomberg TV that his company might be open to a settlement deal as well.

“The environment is such that a deal could get done,” Mollenkopf explained. “Traditionally, legal milestones create an environment for both parties to change their perspective.”

Mollenkopf is now even talking about Qualcomm and Apple working together again. That’s an ambitious goal, given that Apple has stripped Qualcomm chips from iPhones in favor of modems from arch rival Intel Corp.

If Qualcomm continues to improve its chips at a greater rate than rivals, there’s no reason why Apple and Qualcomm wouldn’t work together again — after resolving their legal fracas, he said.

Indeed, word of Apple abandoning Qualcomm was a rumor for quite some time, with Qualcomm confirming it this past July when Qualcomm CFO George Davis told investors: “We believe Apple intends to solely use our competitors’ modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release. We will continue to provide modems for Apple legacy devices.”

That aside, it’s worth noting that talking about a settlement is easy; actually coming to mutually agreeable terms may prove to be much more challenging.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.