25 August 2017
San Diego
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Qualcomm president steps down amid licensing clash

Former head of technology licensing at Qualcomm, Derek Aberle, will step down from his role after 17 years at the company, amid rising tensions over its allegedly unfair licensing practices.

He will leave his post as president of Qualcomm as of 31 December 2017.

Aberle has served on Qualcomm’s executive committee since 2008, prior to which he was executive vice president, group president and president of Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL).

He is credited with overseeing Qualcomm’s technology and IP licensing business and was “instrumental to the success and growth of this division”, according to Qualcomm.

Aberle played a key role in structuring and negotiating key licence agreements with Qualcomm’s licensees and contributed heavily to the creation and implementation of the legal and business strategies that have led to the resolution of several Qualcomm licensing disputes.

Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf said: “Under his talented leadership, the QTL division has significantly grown in both revenues and profits, established its 4G licensing programme and enabled significant competition across the industry.”

He added: “I believe the company is well positioned to build on Derek Aberle’s record of success and continue to deliver solid results in the future.”

“On behalf of the executive team, I want to thank Derek for the vision, creativity, dedicated and judgment he brought to the company and wish him all the best in the future.”

Qualcomm has been heavily criticised for its licensing strategies in recent months, with lawsuits and investigations from governmental bodies and private companies alike.

In January, Qualcomm was fined $853 million by the Korea Fair Trade Commission for violating anti-trust laws.

Soon after, Qualcomm was hit with a lawsuit from the US Federal Trade Commission over alleged anti-competitive tactics and later became the subject of a $1 billion lawsuit from Apple over the same licensing strategies.

Qualcomm has since countered Apple’s lawsuit by launching an International Trade Commission investigation.

Qualcomm executive vice president and current QTL president since March 2016, Alex Rogers, will now report directly to Mollenkopf.

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