Apple v. Qualcomm Is Gearing up to Be Tech’s Legal Battle of the Century

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It was nearly two years ago when Apple, backed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), requested the first of many multimillion-dollar probes into Qualcomm (the San Diego, California-based mobile chip-maker with whom the Cupertino-company’s dealt plenty of business over the years) — over bombshell allegations that Qualcomm had engaged in monopolistic business practices, including overcharging customers like Apple for royalties, and maintaining unfair control over the worldwide mobile chip market.

And while the legal warfare between them has seemingly unfolded like an afternoon Oxygen network soap opera — with both companies hurling accusations, claims and subsequent lawsuits against each other — one would venture to guess that after nearly two-years of costly, back-and-forth banter, and nearly billion-dollar fines, that Apple and Qualcomm would come to their senses, tone down the rhetoric, and talk this whole thing out like civil adults, right?

Sadly, business is business and despite all the drama that’s manifest between them, Apple has apparently indicated it has no intention of sitting down with Qualcomm on any meaningful level to resolve their ongoing disputes.

Specifically, a source with knowledge of the situation (who may be an Apple-appointed counsel, according to the nature of their comment), told Reuters news in an interview that “no discussion is happening at any level” between the companies. 

“There is absolutely no meaningful discussion taking place between us and Qualcomm, and there is no settlement in sight. We are gearing up for trial.” 

While the quote’s language appears to reflect an ‘off-the-cuff’ comment given by someone who’s been hired on to Apple’s legal team, it nonetheless represents a significant development in the case.

As recently as July of this year, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf told investors during a conference call that talks between his firm and Apple were “ongoing.” So this new ‘wall of silence’ erected between them is a fairly recent happening, in a case that’s seen its fair share of happenings, indeed.

Apple v. Qualcomm (2019)

At the heart of their dispute is a broad accusation that Qualcomm has for long abused its dominance in the chip market to leverage unfair patent agreements with its customers, including Apple and Samsung. 

This central claim, in fact, has been the focal point of numerous government antitrust investigations, including here in the U.S., in South Korea and Taiwan, which have collectively resulted in settlements exceeding $700 million against the CPU-maker, thus far.

Given this recent development, and what appears to be an unwillingness to talk things out without a judge and jury present, we’re certain the upcoming trial of Apple v. Qualcomm (expected to kick-off in early 2019) will be one of the most epic tech legal battles of the century. 

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