Qualcomm Inc has has dragged Apple Inc to the court for stealing its chip-making secrets and giving them to rival Intel Corp. The lawsuit suit, filed Tuesday, accused Apple of paving the way for it to switch to Intel’s improved semiconductors. Qualcomm says that the stealing may have cost them billions of dollars in lost sales.
This is the latest salvo in a drawn-out patent dispute between the two tech heavyweights.
Qualcomm has earlier filed a lawsuit in November in which it had accused Apple of misusing secret Qualcomm software to share information about its chips with Intel engineers. But in the latest lawsuit, it said Apple stole Qualcomm trade secrets as part of a “multi-year campaign of sloppy, inappropriate and deceitful conduct” designed to improve rivals’ chipsets and ultimately divert Qualcomm’s Apple-based business to Intel.
Apple declined to comment. Intel declined to comment on this matter as it is not named as a defendant in lawsuit.
The world’s most valuable technology company previously used Qualcomm’s modem chips in its iPhone, which helped the device connect to wireless data networks. With the iPhone 7, launched in 2016, Apple began using Intel modem chips in some models instead.
Qualcomm told investors in July it believed its modem chips were completely removed from the newest generation of iPhones released this month, leaving Intel as the sole supplier. Teardowns of the new devices have confirmed that Intel is supplying the modem chips.
Apple has cast doubt on Qualcomm’s claims. Last month, it alleged that Qualcomm refused to answer its questions about which specific confidential information it had improperly shared with Intel. Apple has also alleged that it gave Qualcomm the chance to verify that Qualcomm’s software had been used properly.
The dispute, taking place in San Diego County Superior Court, is one strand of a wide-ranging legal battle in which Apple has accused Qualcomm of unfair patent licensing practices. Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile phone chipmaker, has, in turn, accused Apple of patent infringement.
Qualcomm has previously said it gave Apple access to its confidential software tools to help Apple integrate its modem chips into the iPhone.
On Tuesday, Qualcomm alleged that, since filing its lawsuit in November, it has discovered that Apple repeatedly used Qualcomm software to help Intel’s engineers “improve the sub-par performance of Intel’s chipsets.”
It did not present evidence or say how it found that out. The case is currently in the discovery phase, where parties can exchange evidence.
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