Qualcomm: Apple Breached a Major Agreement After Sharing Secrets with Intel

Qualcomm Credit: Mike Blake / Reuters
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While Qualcomm’s ongoing legal salvo with Apple won’t officially go to court in the U.S. until April of next year, the San Diego, California-based chip-maker this week came out swinging with some bold new allegations against the Cupertino tech-giant.

In a motion filed Monday with the Superior Court of California, Qualcomm accused Apple of stealing trade secrets in what the firm described as a major breach of contract. Apple then shared those secrets with Intel, Qualcomm asserts, in a coordinated effort to bolster the performance of its latest iPhone chips.

“Master Software Agreement”

Qualcomm’s primary complaint is that Apple breached the “master software agreement” it signed back when it became a Qualcomm customer nearly a decade ago. 

According to the terms of that contract, Apple agreed to allow Qualcomm access to ensure its source code and tools were being appropriately protected — although it’s currently being alleged this may not have been the case.

In a previous argument, Qualcomm suggested it was being prevented from auditing Apple’s use of the Qualcomm-produced source code — but it’s now being asserted that Apple has been using the code and tools with Intel in a coordinated attempt to fix imperfections in its Intel-produced iPhone chips. Of course, this would be in violation of the “master software agreement.”

Apple hasn’t yet responded to the fresh allegations, but Qualcomm general counsel Donald Rosenberg, in a statement issued on Monday, warned that “Unlawful use of Qualcomm’s valuable trade secrets to try and help a competitor catch up irreparably harms us and must not be allowed to continue.” 

He added that while the case could have easily stood on its own merit, and would have been filed regardless, Qualcomm is ultimately hoping the new charges will be included in its existing litigation, which, as we mentioned, is expected to go to court early next year.

Qualcomm vs. Apple: Will It Ever End?

If you’ve been following us for a while now, you’ll know the epic Qualcomm vs. Apple dispute has been unfolding for nearly two-years now, with both companies repeatedly attacking each other in (and out of) court over a number of allegations including claims of patent infringement, unlawful and monopolistic business practices, and more.

Qualcomm has since been investigated and held liable for these practices by some government agencies around the world, and its domestic dispute with Apple shows absolutely no sign of going away anytime soon. 


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