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Leaked emails suggest a new reason for dispute between Apple and Qualcomm

By Cookie Monster - on 21 Jan 2019, 8:00am

Leaked emails suggest a new reason for dispute between Apple and Qualcomm

An email exchange in 2017 between Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams and Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf reveals that the ongoing legal battle between the two companies could be more than just royalty fees and patent infringement. 

These leaked executive emails, which were obtained by Bloomberg, suggest that the dispute between Apple and Qualcomm could be over software access. In fact, the emails showed that Williams actually wanted to put aside the licensing dispute to focus on the potential benefits of the two companies working together. 

Williams stated that Apple would not leak important Qualcomm's computer codes which are required to customize modem chips, and even offered to "firewall" Apple engineers using the software. However, Mollenkopf expressed his concerns about protecting Qualcomm's proprietary information and had not seen any concrete steps from Apple to prevent the leak of the codes.

"In my wildest imagination of some evil intention of Apple, I have trouble coming up with a real scenario where anything of significant value could be leaked based on this code," Williams wrote in September 2017.

"I just hope the licensing dispute doesn’t cloud good judgment in the team on a massive business opportunity," he added, noting that Apple planned to order about $2 billion worth of chips from Qualcomm for 2018. "I was hoping to keep some decent quantity of business flowing with hopes that the licensing stuff will get solved."

Mollenkopf eventually offered to provide software access to Apple under one condition: Apple needs to use Qualcomm's modem chips in at least 50% of the iPhone over two years. Apple never agreed to the deal since it has used Intel modems for all the 2018 iPhone models. 

Qualcomm filed a lawsuit against Apple in September 2018 claiming that the iPhone maker stole its source code and other trade secrets, and passed the information to Intel. 

Source: Bloomberg