01 August 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Settlement a possibility in Apple v Qualcomm

Apple’s $1 billion lawsuit will likely be settled out of court, according to Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf.

Speaking to CNBC’s David Faber on its Squawk on the Street news programme, Mollenkopf said: “Typically companies come to agreements out of court. Sometimes on the courtroom steps. Sometimes not on the courtroom steps. And we’ve had experience over the course of the history—both ways.”

He added: “It could be a situation where a solution just appears.”

Qualcomm has faced a slew of fines and lawsuits over the last few years relating to its standard-essential patents and commitment to license them on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

The semiconductor has paid fines of almost billion dollars in China and South Korea.

Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion in January of this year, accusing the semiconductor company of unfairly charging royalties for technologies that Qualcomm has nothing to do with.

Apple’s suit followed on the heels of a complaint from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which accused Qualcomm of abusive licensing practices.

According to Apple, Qualcomm has withheld nearly $1 billion in payments from Apple as retaliation for “responding truthfully to law enforcement agencies investigating them”.

Qualcomm denies Apple’s and the FTC’s complaints, and has filed countersuits against Apple in US district court and before the International Trade Commission.

Valuable for the shareholders

Speaking to CNBC, Mollenkopf said that Qualcomm’s unique business model is what has drawn the ire of so many foes.

He said: “[Qualcomm’s] unique so it’s easy to attack. It just takes a while to go legally and defend yourself. But it’s worth doing. It’s very valuable to our shareholders.”

In January, a Qualcomm shareholder filed a class action suit against the company and demanded compensation for a fall in share prices that he blamed on the way management handled the anti-trust controversies.

Rasesh Shah said that Qualcomm lied to shareholders when it told them that, “unlike some other companies in the industry that hold back certain key technologies”, Qualcomm offers its “entire patent portfolio for use in cellular subscriber devices and cell site infrastructure equipment”.

In his complaint, Shah said these statements were “materially false and/or misleading because they represented and failed to disclose adverse facts pertaining to Qualcomm’s business, operational and financial results, which were known to [Qualcomm] or recklessly disregarded by them”.

He said that Qualcomm had failed to disclose that it was “engaging and/or had engaged in anti-competitive conduct to maintain a monopoly for semiconductors used in mobile phones in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act”.

According to law firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann (BLB&G), the court issued an order appointing Sjunde AP-Fonden and Metzler Asset Management as lead plaintiffs in the case, with BLB&G and Motley Rice representing them, respectively.

BLB&G said Qualcomm’s “clear-cut anti-competitive practices dealt a swift and severe blow to the value of the company’s shares, causing Qualcomm’s stock price to plummet 33 percent during the class period and erasing over $32 billion in shareholder value”.

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