In a sudden and unexpected move, Apple and Qualcomm announced today that they have ended all ongoing litigation and have reached global patent license and chipset supply agreements.
“Qualcomm and Apple today announced an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide,” an Apple announcement reads. (Qualcomm has posted the same announcement.) “The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm. The companies also have reached a six-year license agreement, effective as of April 1, 2019, including a two-year option to extend, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.”
This is blockbuster news, folks, and an implicit agreement from Apple that it did, in fact, owe Qualcomm significant patent-based royalties. Furthermore, it shows how hamstrung Apple was without Qualcomm: Its agreement with Intel to supply mobile chipsets, especially for modems, has been a disaster.
Interestingly, I started writing an editorial on Monday called Apple and Qualcomm Need Each Other in which I would have argued that these companies shouldn’t be fighting but should instead be each other’s biggest partner.
Now, of course, they are.
I’m curious to see whether the details of this agreement are made public. But I’ve long felt that it was Apple that was at fault here. And the only issue facing Qualcomm now is that Apple is racing to produce its own chipsets, especially for 5G networking, to ensure it’s never held hostage to a third party like this again.