Apple Planned to Sue Qualcomm As Far Back as 2014

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Last week, Qualcomm and Apple surprised everyone by announcing that they have settled their dispute, with Apple signing a six-year multi-patent licensing agreement. This move surprised many since before the trial started, Apple had made it clear that it had no intention to settle its dispute with Qualcomm.

However, it looks like Apple realized it was not going to win the case irrespective of the strong words it publicly used against Qualcomm. In the trial between the two companies, Qualcomm showed internal memo of Apple employees which described the San Diego chip company’s patent share as “unique” and its products as “the best.”

The court documents reveal that Apple has been paying Qualcomm about $7.50 for every device it sold featuring the latter’s chip. Qualcomm’s engineering prowess was also praised by Apple, with its patent portfolio being considered as the strongest for wireless standards.

An internal memo from an accountant in 2009 said Qualcomm is “widely considered the owner of the strongest patent portfolio for essential and relevant patents for wireless standards,” according to a document revealed in court. In a March 2015 email that was part of the sealed documents, Apple’s vice president of hardware, Johny Srouji, wrote of Qualcomm technology, “Engineering wise, they have been the best.”

What’s shocking is that Apple seemingly planned to sue Qualcomm as far back as in 2014. However, the company waited until the end of 2016 when Qualcomm paid Apple billions of dollars as a part of their agreement to make its move. The document “Qualcomm Royalty Reduction” clearly mentioned that Apple’s goal was to reduce its net royalty to Qualcomm and achieve this by using methods that would hurt Qualcomm financially and even put its licensing model at risk.

During the trial, Apple’s lawyer Cordell had shown Apple’s patent licensing agreements with Huawei and Ericsson and highlighted how they cost the company a fraction of its licensing deal with Qualcomm. However, Apple was being pure evil here by showing only a selected list of patents with the best deal it had received on them. It had actually gone out and signed these cheap deals over the last couple of years just to make Qualcomm look bad.

In one internal document cited by Qualcomm’s lawyers, Apple said it sought to “create evidence” by scrupulously licensing other less expensive patents to make Qualcomm’s look expensive. According to the documents, Apple said it would “selectively filter” a group of patent licenses for “the most desirable deals,” using the patents as “evidence as a comparable in disputes with others.” Qualcomm lawyer Evan Chesler alleged the “others” referred to Qualcomm. Apple declined to comment on the documents and allegation.

The Washington Post report paints a very negative picture of Apple and shows that Qualcomm might just have been the good guy here. Apple seemed to be playing a double-game here by saying something else in front of the public and media and secretly hatching plans to harm Qualcomm.

[Via Washington Post]