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Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon believes that the legal battle with Apple over the iPhone modem could end in 2019, but if history — and Apple's remarks — are any indication, that's a long-shot.
Apple and Qualcomm's royalty payments fight is heading to the San Diego federal court on April 15, seemingly bringing to a close a disagreement between the tech titans that has taken place over the last two years. In the view of Cristiano Amon, the end is apparently in sight.
"We feel like we are probably near the end of this game - we have a lot of legal milestones approaching," Amon advised to Yahoo Finance. "We see 2019 as having events that will drive resolution one way or another."
Amon's comments are similar to those made by CEO Steve Mollenkopf on November 28, where he suggested the two are "on the doorstep of finding a resolution." Claiming the two communicate as companies, Mollenkopf further suggested Qualcomm would "love to work with Apple" on future products, including a 5G-equipped iPhone.
Apple responded to Mollenkopf's comments in court, with Apple attorney William Isaacson taking a moment during a recent hearing to stress no negotiations were happening "at any level," there hadn't been talks "in months," and that reports the firms were close to a settlement are "not true."
In early November, a source believed to be within Apple or a hired legal team advised to one report "There is absolutely no meaningful discussion taking place between us and Qualcomm, and there is no settlement in sight. We are gearing up for trial."
As for Amon's suggestion the legal action is "probably near the end," it is highly likely that whatever the result of April's trial, the two companies will continue to argue over the result for a considerable amount of time, appealing to have the potentially high judgements against them overturned. For comparison, Apple's first blockbuster trial with Samsung took over five years from filing to completion and the stakes are no smaller in the Apple versus Qualcomm matter.
To wit, Qualcomm will probably dispute being demanded to pay the $1 billion in royalties that Apple believes were withheld, and would fight any court-ordered reduction in royalties that Apple would need to pay for its components and technology usage.
Qualcomm's complaints against Apple include the iPhone producer attempting to pay less than the fair market value for standard-essential payments, wrongly inducing regulatory action in a number of jurisdictions, breach of contract, and more recently accusations of stolen trade secrets being provided to chip competitor Intel.
Ultimately, neither company wants to lose this battle.