UPDATED 21:48 EST / MARCH 28 2019

23710485033_965a965718_z POLICY

Apple CEO Tim Cook to testify at Qualcomm trial next month

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook will testify at a trial next month that could mark the culmination of its long-running legal battle with Qualcomm Technologies Inc.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that the trial will include testimony from both Cook (pictured) and his counterpart at Qualcomm, Steven Mollenkopf. According to a filing seen by Bloomberg, Cook will appear at the trial to testify on Apple’s business strategy and finances and also the nature of agreements it has with other technology companies related to its dispute with Qualcomm.

The filing mentions other high-profile witnesses from Apple’s executive leadership as well. They include Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, former general counsel Bruce Sewell and former hardware boss Bob Mansfield.

The upcoming trial in San Diego is a big one. It deals with Apple’s original complaint against Qualcomm dating back to January 2017 accusing the chipmaker of charging unfair royalties for patents it owns. The patents relate to Qualcomm’s baseband modem technologies, which are essential for providing internet connectivity on Apple’s iPhones and other devices.

Apple says Qualcomm used “exclusionary tactics” to retain its position as the leader of the baseband chip market. Qualcomm refutes the allegations and has filed a series of countersuits against Apple for refusing to pay royalties it says it owes.

Apple and Qualcomm were once key partners. For many years, Apple exclusively used Qualcomm’s modems for its iPhones and iPads, but the legal tussle has seen that relationship hit a brick wall. Last year, Apple said it was switching to Intel Corp. as its new exclusive supplier of modems, claiming that Qualcomm was refusing to sell it any more parts. The company may also be looking at building its own modems in future, if recent job listings are any indication of its plans.

The trial could also see executives from Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., better known as Foxconn, and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. take to the stand. Major component suppliers to Apple,  both have also refused to pay royalties on Qualcomm patents since 2017. Qualcomm wants them to pay up.

“We are being treated to the no-holds-barred IP battle between Qualcomm and Apple,” said Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president of Constellation Research Inc. “Next round is the CEOs, and if there is a surprise move, it could be made by the opponent’s legal team now. Get the popcorn ready.”

Qualcomm won a small victory against Apple earlier this week when an International Trade Commission Judge found Apple guilty of infringing on two of the chipmaker’s patents that relate to data download speeds and power management. Judge MaryJoan McNamara ordered a ban on some iPhones being imported from China, where they’re manufactured, to the U.S., but the verdict is still subject to a review.

The San Diego trial will kick off on April 15.

Photo: iPhonedigital/Flickr

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