Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview on Tuesday said that Apple had not conducted any kind of settlement talks with Qualcomm since the third calendar quarter of 2018.
Cook was referencing November comments from Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf, who said during a November 7 earnings call that Qualcomm has “continued to have discussions with Apple to try and reach a resolution” and in an interview later in the month that the two companies were “really on the doorstep of finding a resolution.”
After Cook’s comments on the matter were published, Qualcomm made a statement to Reuters, saying Cook’s remarks were “misleading” and that the company stands by Mollenkompf’s statement.
“We have been consistent for the last 18 months in making clear that we have, at various times, been in discussions with Apple about a possible resolution to our licensing dispute,” a Qualcomm spokesperson said in a statement. “We have also stated clearly on several occasions that we believe it will be resolved, one way or the other, in the near future, either through a settlement or court decisions.”
Apple responded to Qualcomm’s statement by saying Cook’s remarks were accurate, saying “Qualcomm is desperate to obfuscate the tales it has been telling its investors. Their accusations are a red herring.”
During an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Cook called Qualcomm’s policies “illegal.”
The issues that we have with Qualcomm is that they have a policy of no license, no chips. This is, in our view, illegal. And so many regulators in many different countries agree with this. And then secondly, the obligation to offer their patent portfolio on a fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory basis. And they don’t do that. They charge exorbitant prices. And they have a lot of different tactics they use to do that. And that’s not just us saying that. I mean, you can see what’s coming out of the FTC trial here in the United States.
Apple and Qualcomm have been involved in a bitter, high-stakes legal battle since early 2017, with Apple refusing to pay royalties to Qualcomm and Qualcomm responding to Apple’s refusal to pay with patent lawsuits and other litigation.
Qualcomm has received a preliminary import ban on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 in China and Germany. Apple was able to workaround the Chinese ban with a software update for the affected devices, but is still unable to sell the handsets in Germany.
Apple isn’t the only party saying Qualcomm’s use of patents is wrong, as the United States Federal Trade Commission has also levied antitrust charges at Qualcomm. The FTC charges that the company uses its portfolio of patents to force anticompetitive supply and licensing terms on manufacturers.