Qualcomm Inc accused Apple Inc of stealing its chip-making secrets and giving them to rival Intel Corp, paving the way for Apple to switch to Intel’s improved semiconductors, which may have cost Qualcomm billions of dollars in lost sales.
The accusation, made in a legal filing on Tuesday, is the latest salvo in a drawn-out patent dispute between the two tech heavyweights.
Qualcomm accused Apple of misusing secret Qualcomm software to share information about its chips with Intel engineers in a November lawsuit, but went further yesterday by saying 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, which is not named as a defendant in Qualcomm’s lawsuit, declined to comment.
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, reports Reuters.
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 asked Judge Jacqueline Stern to allow it to attach the new allegations to its existing complaint rather than force it to file a new lawsuit.
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