Qualcomm Accuses Apple of Stealing LTE Modem Trade Secrets and Giving Them to Intel [Updated]

Qualcomm has accused Apple of stealing confidential information and trade secrets, and passing them on to rival chipmaker Intel, according to a court document filed Monday and reported by several media outlets.


For background, Qualcomm agreed that Apple could have access to its source code and tools for LTE modems, but with limitations. Qualcomm believes that Apple proceeded to share the information with Intel to help improve its LTE modems, allowing Apple to stop using Qualcomm's modems in the latest iPhones.

Axios's Ina Fried shared an excerpt from Qualcomm's complaint:

Although discovery is ongoing, it is clear that Apple's conduct went far beyond simply breaching the contract originally sued on. Indeed, it is now apparent Apple engaged in a years-long campaign of false promises, stealth and subterfuge designed to steal Qualcomm's confidential information and trade secrets for the purpose of improving the performance of lower-quality modem chipsets, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Qualcomm's Apple-based business.

Qualcomm already sued Apple in November 2017 based on suspicions the iPhone maker was using the chipmaker's trade secrets in wrongful ways. Now, Qualcomm is more confident and direct about its accusation.

Don Rosenberg, General Counsel of Qualcomm, in a statement provided to MacRumors:

Once again Apple has flouted its contractual commitments and misappropriated Qualcomm's property rights in an effort to improve its performance and increase its profits.

The code, tools and design details of Qualcomm's modem technology which are the subjects of this litigation represent the genius and labors of our dedicated engineers. We have only the rule of law to protect them.

The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in April 2019, but Qualcomm's proposed amendment could delay the trial, which is one of over a dozen lawsuits waged between the two companies. Apple initially sued Qualcomm in June 2017 for $1 billion in unpaid royalties, and later for patent infringement.

iFixit's teardown of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max uncovered an Intel modem in both devices, a few months after Qualcomm said Apple was unlikely to use its own modems in the latest iPhones. Qualcomm was Apple's exclusive provider of modems until Intel was added as a second supplier for the iPhone 7 lineup.

Update: MacRumors has obtained a copy of Qualcomm's motion, embedded below.

Qualcomm Filing Accusing Ap... by on Scribd

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
24 months ago

Qualcomm seems like such a petty, vengeful company. "Oh, you're not going to use our products anymore? We'll bury you in nuisance lawsuits!!!"

I'm glad Apple dropped them; hopefully others see how toxic they are and drop them too, though most companies don't have the resources to fight these lawsuits like Apple does.

Or they're a company who spent billions on their technology and want to see it protected. If Apple can sue someone for copying their rounded corners on a phone then I don't see why it's out of bounds for Qualcomm to sue for something of actual value.
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
Too bad intel couldn’t make sense of the stolen information. Their chips still suck.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
Qualcomm is a bitter ex who can't move on.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
Qualcomm seems like such a petty, vengeful company. "Oh, you're not going to use our products anymore? We'll bury you in nuisance lawsuits!!!"

I'm glad Apple dropped them; hopefully others see how toxic they are and drop them too, though most companies don't have the resources to fight these lawsuits like Apple does.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago

Or they're a company who has spent billions on their technology and want to see it protected. If Apple can sue someone for copying their rounded corners on a phone then I don't see why it's out of bounds for Qualcomm to sue for something of actual value.

Exactly. Are the folks here thinking that apple is a saint? Apple is quick to sue others - example fixing etc and definitely sues others for intellectual property. So why is it wrong for them to be sued when they do the very same thing they accuse others of?
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Warns Against Closing MacBooks With a Cover Over the Camera

Friday July 10, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
Apple this month published a support document that warns customers against closing their Mac notebooks with a cover over the camera as it can lead to display damage. Image via Reddit Apple says that the clearance between the display and the keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances, which can be problematic. Covering the camera can also cause issues with automatic brightness and True Tone....

Leaker: 'iPhone 12 Pro' to Come With 6GB of RAM

Friday July 10, 2020 1:59 am PDT by
Later this year, Apple is expected to release four OLED iPhones in three display sizes, including 5.4, 6.7, and two 6.1-inch models. Rumors suggest the 6.7-inch iPhone and one 6.1-inch model will be higher-end devices, and now leaker @L0vetodream has corroborated previous rumors about the internal specs of Apple's upcoming lineup. Rumors suggest Apple will use 5-nanometer A14 chips in its...

Apple Moving Forward on Semitransparent Lenses for Upcoming AR Headset

Friday July 10, 2020 7:24 am PDT by
Apple and Foxconn have reached a key milestone in the development of Apple's long-rumored augmented reality headset, with the semitransparent lenses for the device moving from prototype to trial production, reports The Information. Apple is developing the lenses on a single production line at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu in southwestern China, where most of Apple’s iPad production is...

Kuo: Apple Silicon Macs to Include 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air This Year, 14.1-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro Models Next Year

Friday July 10, 2020 2:58 am PDT by
At last month's WWDC, Apple officially announced that its Mac computers will be transitioned from Intel x86 to homegrown Apple Silicon chips. Apple said it plans to deliver the first Apple Silicon Mac by the end of the year and complete the transition in about two years. According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with a form factor similar to the current 13.3-inch...

Arm-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binaries Are Possible

Saturday July 11, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
Casual MacRumors visitors may not realize that we have a very active PowerPC forum where users discuss issues related to PowerPC Macs that have not been produced since 2006. Threads range from hardware upgrades and software options to nostalgia: Photo by AphoticD Apple's recently announced transition to Apple Silicon (Arm) based Macs raised some interesting questions about future support...

iPhone 12 Sizes Compared with iPhone SE, 7, 8, SE 2, X, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max [Update]

Tuesday July 7, 2020 6:49 pm PDT by
Apple is planning on launching the iPhone 12 this fall which is rumored to be coming in 3 different sizes: 5.4", 6.1" and 6.7". The middle size (6.1") matches up with the currently shipping iPhone 11, but the other two sizes will be entirely new. Over the weekend, there was some excitement about how well the new 5.4" iPhone 12 compares to the original iPhone SE. Those who have been hoping...

Tom Hanks WWII Movie 'Greyhound' Debuts on Apple TV+

Friday July 10, 2020 3:33 am PDT by
Apple TV+ today debuted "Greyhound," the highly anticipated Second World War movie starring Tom Hanks as a naval officer given command of Navy destroyer Greyhound in the Battle of the Atlantic. "Greyhound" features Hanks as George Krause, who must fight his own self doubts and personal demons as he leads a convoy of Allied ships against German U-boats to prove that he belongs in command. ...

Top Stories: iOS 14 Public Beta, iPhone 12 Size Comparison, 14-Inch MacBook Pro Rumors

Saturday July 11, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
After one round of developer beta testing, Apple unleashed iOS and iPadOS 14 to a wider audience this week, opening it up to members of the public beta program. There are lots of changes and new features to check out, but as with any beta, be careful about installing it on your main devices. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Other major stories this week included our ...

Hands-On With tvOS 14: Picture in Picture, 4K YouTube, HomeKit and More

Thursday July 9, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple at WWDC introduced a new version of tvOS, the software that's designed to run on the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models. tvOS updates are often more minor in scale than iOS, watchOS, and macOS updates, but tvOS 14 has some useful new features. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple in tvOS 13 introduced a Picture in Picture option for the Apple TV...

Apple CEO Tim Cook's 2019 Compensation Totaled Over $133 Million

Friday July 10, 2020 12:01 pm PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook was the second highest paid CEO in the United States in 2019, according to Bloomberg's list of the highest paid CEOs and executives in 2019. Cook received compensation totaling $133,727,869 by Bloomberg's count. Almost all of Cook's compensation was provided in the form of stock awards and related performance bonuses. As reported by the SEC earlier this year, Cook received ...