Qualcomm CEO says "at the door" of legal battle resolution with Apple

By Roger Fingas
Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 4:35 pm Eastern Time (7:35 pm ET)

Apple and chip maker Qualcomm are "on the verge of finding a solution" to their global legal war against patents and royalties, the company's CEO said on Wednesday.

The iPhone XR, which uses an Intel cellular modem.

The iPhone XR, which uses an Intel cellular modem.

"We speak as businesses," said Steve Mollenkopf CNBCJim Cramer in an interview. The situation is consistent with "the fourth quarter of the match and not the first quarter," continued Mollenkopf.

"We have always spoken – I am very consistent – that … the second half of this year and next year are those where we are really about to find a solution and that we see nothing different than this, "he explained.

The CEO added that Qualcomm "would like to work with Apple", especially on a future iPhone equipped with 5G technology. Apple has begun using Intel cellular modems in some models of the iPhone 7 of 2016, and the current range of iPhone – iPhone XS, XS Max and XR – does not have any Qualcomm Modems.

The interview seems to contradict an early month report, according to which no trading was going on "at any level" and that Apple was actually preparing for a lawsuit.

Apple first filed a $ 1 billion lawsuit against Qualcomm in January 2017, claiming that it had withheld retaliation for cooperating with the company. antitrust investigations. The battle quickly degenerated, giving rise to prosecution and counter-prosecution around the world. In September, Qualcomm accused Apple of divulging trade secrets to Intel in order to improve the performance of modems.

A recurring theme is the accusation that Qualcomm has abused its market dominance to get chip buyers to sign unfair patent contracts. This complaint has in fact been the subject of several antitrust investigations by the United States, Taiwan and South Korea. An agreement reached in August saw Qualcomm pay $ 93 million in fines to Taiwan and promise to invest $ 700 million in the country over five years.

A lawsuit filed by the US Federal Trade Commission actually precedes that of Apple and has reached a turning point recently when District Judge Lucy Koh made a preliminary ruling against Qualcomm, asking her to assign a technology license to competitors like Intel. Qualcomm and the FTC have pursued a settlement.

To pressure Qualcomm, Apple has asked its manufacturers to suspend royalty payments, potentially over $ 7 billion.

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