Apple, Qualcomm spar over Ceo’s comment on the settlement talks

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) has responded to the comments of Apple Inc (AAPL.O) Chief Executive Tim Cook in an interview, in which he said that there was no recent handling of discussions between the iPhone maker and the chip vendor in their global legal battle, a call to Cook’s comments “misleading.”

People walk by a display promoting 5G connectivity on the Qualcomm booth during the 2019 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Apple on Wednesday said he stood by Cook’s comments.

The two companies are disputing comments from their respective Ceo’s have made about the settlement of the conversations. Apple’s chief on Tuesday said any talks ended in September 2018. Qualcomm Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf in November, comments were made about the supplier of the efforts to resolve the dispute.

But Qualcomm on Tuesday said Cook had miscast Mollenkopf notes, in which no notice of a settlement, and that Qualcomm maintains are accurate.

The war of words is unlikely to play a major role in the outcome of the legal battle between the two companies. But it points to the high stakes and deeply entrenched positions of each side, with Apple arguing in court that Qualcomm against an unfair “tax” on the phones, while Qualcomm is fighting for the protection of a patent licensing model, the plea has helped to connect billions of new users by means of wireless networks.

In a television interview on CNBC earlier on Tuesday, Cook has responded to a question from host Jim Cramer about the question of whether Apple would settle with a Qualcomm after Qualcomm had announced legal victories against Apple in patent cases in China and Germany.

“Look, the truth is, we are not in a scheme discussions with them since the third quarter of last year. That is the truth. So I don’t know where that thinking is off,” Cook said.

Cook’s comments in contrast with the Mollenkopf made in November on CNBC.

“We talk to companies, and I think that what you see, really, are activities in a consistent, really, with the fourth quarter of the game, and not the first quarter,” Mollenkopf told CNBC. “We always talk about – and I’ve been very consistent that this second half of the (2018) and (2019), if we are truly on the threshold of finding a solution.”

In a statement, Qualcomm said the company stands by Mollenkopf notes.

“We have been consistent for the last 18 months to make it clear that we have, at various times, are in talks with Apple about a possible solution for our licensing dispute,” a Qualcomm spokesperson said in a statement. “We have also stated clearly on several occasions that we believe that it will be resolved, one way or the other, in the near future, either through a settlement or court decisions.”

Apple on Wednesday said Cook’s comments were accurate.

“Qualcomm is desperate to cover up that the stories told, his investors. Their accusations are a red herring,” Apple said in a statement to Reuters.

Apple has accused Qualcomm to take on illegal patent licensing practices to maintain a dominant position on the market in so-called modem chips that help mobile phones connect to wireless data networks. Qualcomm has argued that the procedures followed decades-long tech industry standards, and that Apple has not compensated for the intellectual property.

The primary case in Apple and Qualcomm’s legal battle comes to trial in April.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; editing by Gopakumar Warrier, Christopher Cushing and G Crosse

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