The big picture: Qualcomm no doubt took a big financial hit when it lost Apple as a customer for the new iPhones. According to Qualcomm, Apple used its technology to help Intel improve its own modems so it could switch to them as a supplier. Will the legal system agree?
Qualcomm has accused Apple of stealing trade secrets and passing them along to Intel to help the chipmaker improve the quality of the modems it supplies to Apple.
In its latest filing, Qualcomm has asked a judge to add the new accusations to an existing lawsuit scheduled to go to trial in April 2019.
Qualcomm in preparation for the aforementioned lawsuit discovered evidence indicating Apple engineers repeatedly provided source code and other Qualcomm IP to Intel engineers to help improve the performance of their modem chips. According to CNBC, Qualcomm doesn’t provide direct evidence of this but references back-and-forth discussions between Apple and Intel engineers as well as Apple’s source code development history.
Apple began using Qualcomm modems in its mobile products in 2011. As relations between the two companies went south, word spread that Apple was looking for a new supplier for modem chips. Teardowns of the latest iPhones reveal the use of Intel modems, not Qualcomm parts.
Qualcomm's general counsel, Donald Rosenberg, told CNBC that "unlawful use of Qualcomm's valuable trade secrets to try to help a competitor catch up irreparably harms us and must not be allowed to continue."
Intel is not named as a defendant in Qualcomm’s lawsuit.