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When Apple and Qualcomm went global, they didn't want that to include litigation.
But there they were, suing each other year-after-year across continents for billions of dollars. That's a lot of cell phones, or at least a dozen iPhone Xs. Their mega patent dispute was coming to a head this week when suddenly the parties settled.
Apparently, they decided to make money rather than spend it on continuing litigation.
The settlement agreement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, and a six-year license agreement for Apple to continue using Qualcomm's chips. Basically, it puts them back where they started before the litigation.
The stakes were high as the parties prepared for trial to start Monday. Apple had sued Qualcomm for more than $1 billion in unpaid royalties, claiming Qualcomm engaged in unfair patent licensing practices. At the same time, Qualcomm counter-claimed that Apple owed it $7 billion in royalties using for its tech. Meanwhile, Apple's complaint was merged with suppliers that upped the anti-trust claims to as much as $27 billion. According to reports, the damages could have been four times more than Qualcomm's net income in 2016.
In a press release, Apple announced they agreed to "drop all litigation." It ends all cases, including the suppliers' claims, as the companies "have reached a global patent license agreement and a chipset supply agreement."
All Global, All Good
Like good sports after an epic battle, Apple and Qualcomm no doubt agreed not to disparage each other. Apple praised Qualcomm for "breakthrough technologies that transform how the world connects, computes and communicates." Qualcomm, in a mirror-image press release, praised Apple for leading "the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV.
It's hard to say who won in the end, but it's easier to say who lost. Hours after the settlement announcement, Intel said it is getting out of the 5G smartphone market. That would be two steps forward for Apple and Qualcomm, one step back for Intel.