Apple accuses Qualcomm of witness tampering in latest courtroom spat

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Qualcomm headquarters
Lawyers got heated in the courtroom today for the latest Apple v. Qualcomm patent battle.
Photo: Qualcomm

This week’s legal fight between Apple and Qualcomm reached a point generally only seen on TV courtroom dramas: the iPhone maker accused its rival of witness tampering.

The complaint comes after Apple’s star witness decided at the last minute not to testify.

There have been many court battles between the two companies in the past few years since Qualcomm began accusing Apple of patent infringement in a struggle about billions of dollars in royalty payments.

The current lawsuit is about three patents on fairly basic features of smartphones. 

Did Qualcomm play a dirty trick?

One of these patents covers a method enabling the device to connect to the internet immediately after it starts up. Apple claims that one of its engineers, Arjuna Siva, helped the people at Qualcomm with the basic technology, and the company then used his ideas in its patent filing without crediting him. The chip maker denies this, of course.

Siva was to testify on Apple’s behalf this week, but he got a new lawyer who recommended he not testify, according to Cnet. Apple protested when they discovered that Siva’s new counsel was a former partner with Quinn Emanuel, the law firm that represents Qualcomm in this lawsuit.

Apple lawyer Juanita Brooks then called Siva “a tainted witness” and accused its rival of witness tampering. Qualcomm’s chief lawyer in the case denied the charge, naturally.

Moving on

The legal proceedings are continuing, as the two companies wrangle over whether Apple owes its rival royalty payments for this patent and two more.

One of those Qualcomm patents covers how graphics processing affects battery life, and the other is about speeding up traffic between a phone’s modem and its processor.

This all matters to you

These proceedings have real-world consequences for everyday iPhone users. Qualcomm is one of the world’s top 4G modem makers but Apple refuses to use its products while the two companies are involved in lawsuits. And Qualcomm currently has the only 5G modem on the market, and Apple won’t use it either. This could delay the release of a 5G iPhone.