Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Recent business litigation has Apple and Qualcomm in hot dispute

The world of high-tech mobile devices involves putting a lot of proprietary information together to make a working unit suitable for mass marketing. This inevitably means that breach of contract and intellectual property disputes will arise during the course of a product's public life. In Louisiana, such disputes often appear in the dockets of the business litigation courts.

On perhaps the highest scale that such disputes arise, two well-known companies have jockeyed back and forth over these kinds of issues for several years. Apple Computer and chipmaker Qualcomm have been in and out of the courts arguing about their contractual  obligations to each other and the alleged breaches of proprietary obligations committed by each other. Apple began the recent volley of disputes back in January when it complained that Qualcomm was demanding unfair royalties.

The Federal Trade Commission shortly thereafter also sued Qualcomm for monopolistic and exclusionary business practices. Qualcomm was not silenced but rather it sued Apple recently in China, where it requested the government to declare a sales and manufacturing ban on iPhones. The chipmaker complained that Apple refused to allow it to audit Apple's handling of Qualcomm's proprietary software.

Qualcomm claims it has a right to audit those matters as part of the parties' contract.  Furthermore, Qualcomm complains that Apple took proprietary information  and shared it with an Intel engineer. The recent filing of litigation by Qualcomm came early on the heels of reports that Apple was not using Qualcomm technology in its upcoming iOS devices. Experienced observers see the suit as a last-ditch effort by Qualcomm to recoup future losses if Apple does go forward without using Qualcomm's chipsets. In Louisiana, similar business litigation disputes are battled out between a wide variety of technology companies.

Source:, "Qualcomm files new suit against Apple for breach of contract", Rob LeFebvre, Nov. 2, 2017

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