Qualcomm concessions could ease its battle with Apple

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Qualcomm patents
Could this help end the war?
Photo: Qualcomm

Qualcomm has made several concessions which could help speed up the end of its dispute with Apple and regulators in general.

Saving Apple cash? That’s one way to end a conflict!

For one thing, Qualcomm is offering a new lower-cost license to handset makers, charged at 3.25 percent the cost of a handset, rather than the 5 percent it currently charges. This covers only standard patents rather than Qualcomm’s full portfolio of patents.

It is also adding patents for the next-gen 5G wireless charging network at no extra cost. Finally, it is assessing its patent fees against only the first $400 of a phone’s net selling price, instead of $500.

“We have not lowered the rate. What we’re doing is including more technology, more (intellectual property) in the offering without increasing the price,” Alex Rogers, the head of Qualcomm’s licensing division, told Reuters.

Of these changes, the last one is likely to be the one that most affects Apple as a maker of premium smartphones. By charging Apple on only $400 of each iPhone sold Qualcomm’s olive branch could mean more cash in Apple’s pockets.

The battle so far

Qualcomm and Apple’s feud began when Apple sued Qualcomm for allegedly overcharging for the use of its patents.

“For many years Qualcomm has unfairly insisted on charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with,” Apple said in a statement. “The more Apple innovates with unique features such as TouchID, advanced displays, and cameras, to name just a few, the more money Qualcomm collects for no reason and the more expensive it becomes for Apple to fund these innovations.”

The fight has dragged on since then. On June 27 this year, Tim Cook will attend a deposition as part of the ongoing legal battle. While Apple is shifting from Qualcomm to Intel for its next-gen iPhone modem chips, Qualcomm will still provide up to 30 percent of them for the 2018 iPhones.

Qualcomm’s CEO has previously said that he would like to reach a settlement with Apple. Speaking on stage at the Wall Street Journal’s D.Live tech conference last year, CEO Steve Mollenkopf said that he thinks that the feud with Apple can be resolved — so long as the right fee is negotiated.