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Apple accused of sharing Qualcomm's software secrets with Intel in new lawsuit

Qualcomm has once again escalated the legal war with Apple surrounding modem chips in the iPhone and iPad, with the chip manufacturer now claiming that Apple is in breach of contract because of how it works with Intel — and what software has been shared with the competition.

The new lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in San Diego, Calif, courts. Bloomberg reports that the suit alleges Apple is in breach of contract regarding the software that governs how the modem chip that supplies wi-fi and LTE connectivity to the devices has been supplied to Intel, in violation of long-standing contracts prohibiting that exchange.

It is not clear when the newest suit will be heard.

A South Korean antitrust ruling in 2016 spawned the battle. Apple subsequently sued Qualcomm, accusing it of withholding nearly $1 billion in rebates as retaliation for cooperating with Korean officials.

Since then, Apple has ordered its manufacturing partners, like Foxconn, to stop paying royalties. Qualcomm returned fire and launched countersuits to challenge Apple's action.

At a hearing in August, a Qualcomm attorney said that the company has seen a 20 percent drop in market capitalization since Apple launched its lawsuit, and that another, unspecified client recently stopped paying royalties as well while waiting for the outcome of Apple's suit. At the same time, an Apple lawyer stated that the company is suing over 18 specific patents, and won't consent to adjudication on a worldwide FRAND license.

The Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission leveled a $773 million fine against Qualcomm over exactly what Apple is claiming Qualcomm is guilty of. The ruling also mandates that Qualcomm remove terms in contracts involving sharing of customer data.

Two days later, Qualcomm filed a lawsuit in a Beijing intellectual property court that alleged Apple infringes the chip maker's copyrights. At the time, it wasn't clear what patents were being asserted — but the revelations from Tuesday show it to be non-LTE modem related technologies.

On Thursday, Qualcomm declared a 89.7 percent decline in profits between the $778 million fine from Taiwanese regulators, and the ongoing legal scrum with Apple.