Qualcomm CEO Says Out of Court Settlement With Apple Could Happen

Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle since the beginning of the year, and though the fight has escalated in recent weeks, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf today told Fortune that an out of court settlement is not out of the question.

"There's not really anything new going on," Mollenkopf said speaking at the Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen. About the Apple dispute, he explained "those things tend to get to resolved out of court and there's no reason why I wouldn't expect that to be the case here."

Mollenkopf went on to say that he has no specific news of a settlement and that nothing new has happened in the case. "I don't have an announcement or anything so please don't ask, he told Fortune. Mollenkopf made a similar statement back in February, but that was before the legal battle between the two companies intensified. At that time, he also said he didn't expect a public fight, something Apple and Qualcomm have not been able to avoid.


Today's interview suggests Qualcomm is still open to settlement talks, but whether that will happen remains to be seen. If Apple and Qualcomm do not settle, we can expect a legal battle that will continue on for several years.

The fight between Apple and Qualcomm started in January, after the FTC complained that Qualcomm had engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices. Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion just days later, accusing the company of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and refusing to pay quarterly rebates.

According to Apple, Qualcomm has overcharged it by billions of dollars by "double-dipping" with unfair patent licensing agreements, while Qualcomm claims its innovations are "at the heart of every iPhone" and that the royalties are fair.

Qualcomm went on to countersue Apple in April, accusing the company of breaching licensing agreements, making false statements, and encouraging regulatory attacks against Qualcomm, which prompted Apple to stop making royalty payments to Qualcomm entirely until a court can determine the proper amount due.

Apple in late June expanded its lawsuit against Qualcomm, and at the beginning of July, Qualcomm filed a separate patent lawsuit against Apple and asked the International Trade Commission to block imports of select iPhone and iPad models.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
35 months ago
pretty much means "i think im going to lose...soo just pay us to stop this thing pls"
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
Translation: We don't have a case so we're hoping Apple will just give us some free money so we will shut up.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
I've seen a lot of patent lawsuits. Publicly saying "the case might settle" is intended to send a message: "our position feels weak. let's talk about settlement."
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
Please don't settle. Take them to court. Try and get every penny out of them... and fail. Fail so that the little guys who can't sue Qualcomm can get a reasonable price when trying to develop something beyond a pad of glass.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
Reads like an offer to settle. Otherwise, he opened his mouth about ongoing litigation when he shouldn't have.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago

Erm No I think they are about right in their summary of it.

What exactly is wrong?
That Apple are accusing Qualcomm of charging them twice?
Apple is accusing, but there's no evidence of this. Apple is claiming that paying for the modem's and then paying a CDMA license is "paying twice". they're attempting to conflate two seperate QualCom products into 1 to make it look like they're double dipping. In reality, QualComm charges for the Modems (as a piece of hardware), and charges license fees to use QualComms' patents and ownership over CDMA (which they invented)

That the FTC are accusing Qualcomm of bad practises?
Conflating the FTC and Apple cases isn't good here. Bad business practices doesn't mean illegal business practices. If Apple doesn't like Qualcomm's business practices, than Apple is more than welcome to invent their own infrastructure built on their own technologies.

That Qualcomm states they should receive a % of total iPhone sale price as their tech is fundamental to how the iPhone works?
Yes. This is how any licensing works. It's just like Apple's asking for portions (based on % of total retail price) of Samsung devices that violated their patents. Or how Apple charges % of all purchases from the App store. or.. well, that's business. Apple has clearly demonstrated that QualComms CDMA technologies are required for the iPhone to exist, especially as it is today. They can either choose to keep paying, or pick a new network technology which isn't owned by someone else.

That Qualcomm therefore thinks that does not qualify as FRAND when that is what FRAND is therefore(in part)?
the Patents are already FRAND. What Apple is claiming is that they believe QualComm's existing rates are too high. Apple should be more than welcome to raise a case to have that investigated. The question remains, what does the rest of the industry say? If Apple is the ONLY company that is saying that their fees under FRAND are too high, than it's not much of an argument. the point of FRAND is so that everyone who needs access to essential technologies can get it for reasonable pricing, but that also means that all people paying the licenses pay the same percentage.

That Qualcomm is counter suing Apple in return for being sued ?
Qualcomm is counter suing because of how Apple has addressed this. Instead of filing with FRAND and waiting on the outcome, they turned around and charged QualComm over 1 billion dollars and called it a "rebate". And then they went to their manufacturing partners (FoxConn and Pegatron) and made them stop paying their license fees. Remember, APPLE HAS NOT PAID QUALCOMM directly for the license. it is FoxConn and Pegatron who pay QC the license, and then passes the fees on to Apple.

That all seems wrong doesn't it (end sarcasm).


So yes. It all seems wrong. While Apple has every right to argue for lower FRAND fees, Apple overstepped their business agreements by demanding the rebate and then having their own suppliers withold their payments. Apple has now forced FoxConn and Pegatron to violate their contractual agreements (That were in place prior to the iPhone) by witholding payment, while at the same time demanding Qualcomm pay Apple directly for any fees Apple paid to Foxconn / Pegatron.

Apple might be right that the prices are too high. But Apple has basically used their size and power to extort pressure on their manufacturers to violate their contracts and break the laws. Now Apple is essentially selling their devices, using CDMA technology invented by QualComm without paying.
[doublepost=1500398424][/doublepost]

Why would he talk about settlement when the matter is still on-going? Smelling defeat?


or an Olive branch to avoid years of stupidly expensive litigation.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Kuo: Apple to Launch Several Macs With Arm-Based Processors in 2021, USB4 Support Coming to Macs in 2022

Thursday March 26, 2020 8:19 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple plans to launch several Mac notebooks and desktop computers with its own custom designed Arm-based processors in 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Kuo believes that Arm-based processors will significantly enhance the competitive advantage of the Mac lineup, allow Apple to refresh its Mac models without relying on Intel's processor roadmap,...

Apple Says MacBook Air With Retina Display Can Exhibit Anti-Reflective Coating Issues, Unclear if Eligible for Free Repairs [Updated]

Thursday March 26, 2020 8:16 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple this week acknowledged that MacBook Air models with Retina displays can exhibit anti-reflective coating issues, as indicated in a memo shared with Apple Authorized Service Providers and obtained by MacRumors. "Retina displays on some MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers can exhibit anti-reflective (AR) coating issues," the memo states. Apple's internal service documentation ...

Hands-On With the New 2020 12.9-Inch iPad Pro

Wednesday March 25, 2020 2:10 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple last week announced new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, and as of today, the new iPads are arriving to customers. We picked up one of the new 12.9-inch models and checked it out to see just what's new and whether it's worth buying. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. When it comes to design, the new iPad Pro models are identical to the 2018 iPad Pro models, but ...

Apple Considering Delaying iPhone 12 Launch 'by Months'

Wednesday March 25, 2020 12:51 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple is preparing to delay the launch of the 2020 iPhones expected to be equipped with 5G technology, according to sources with knowledge of Apple's plans that spoke to Japanese news site Nikkei. Apple has reportedly held internal discussions about the possibility of delaying the launch "by months" over fears of how well iPhones would sell in the current situation, and supply chain sources...

Hands-On With the New $999 MacBook Air

Thursday March 26, 2020 1:45 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Alongside new iPad Pros last week, Apple also refreshed the MacBook Air, adding more storage, faster 10th-generation processors, and an updated keyboard. We picked up one of the new machines to take a look at some of the upgrades added in the 2020 update. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, there are no real external changes to the MacBook Air's body,...

Apple Offering 90-Day Free Trials for Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X

Thursday March 26, 2020 2:58 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple is offering new free trial options for Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X, its video and audio editing software designed for professional projects, giving customers 90 days to try them out prior to a purchase. The new longer trial options will be beneficial to those who are working from home, including students who are no longer able to work in a classroom environment, and those who are...

Apple Watch Series 6 Could Feature Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor, Pulse Oximetry and Sleep Tracking Support

Friday March 27, 2020 11:28 am PDT by Juli Clover
The upcoming Apple Watch Series 6 set to be released this fall could include a Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the crown of the device, according to Israeli site The Verifier, which cites "senior sources" who have worked with its staff for a "number of years" as the source of the rumor. It's not clear how the alleged Touch ID fingerprint sensor would be implemented, as the Digital...

Apple Launches COVID-19 Website and App With Screening Tool and Resources

Friday March 27, 2020 9:00 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple today announced that it has released a new COVID-19 website and iPhone app with a screening tool and other resources to help people stay informed and take the proper steps to protect their health during the spread of the novel coronavirus. Apple partnered with the CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and FEMA on this initiative. The website and app allow users to answer a...

Deals: Huge Refurbished iPhone Sale Discounts iPhone 7, 8, X, XR, and XS (From $120)

Friday March 27, 2020 5:47 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Woot is back today with a big sale on refurbished iPhones, including markdowns on the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Woot. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. As with every Woot purchase, those...

A12Z Bionic Chip in iPad Pro Allegedly a Renamed A12X With Extra GPU Core Enabled

Thursday March 26, 2020 6:35 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple's new 2020 iPad Pro models are equipped with an A12Z Bionic processor that's remarkably similar to the A12X chip in the 2018 iPad Pro models, offering little in the way of performance improvements. The A12Z does, however, feature an 8-core GPU while the A12X includes a 7-core GPU, which sets them apart, but new evidence shared by NotebookCheck suggests that the A12Z Bionic is simply a...