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Arm Sues Qualcomm For Trademark Infringement

Thomas Grillo

Softbank-owned British chip designer has filed suit against Qualcomm in a federal district court in Delaware. ‘That’s just the normal course of business,’ says one custom PC builder.

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Arm, the British semiconductor and software design company, has filed suit against tech giant Qualcomm Inc. and the startup it acquired, Nuvia, alleging breach of license agreements and trademark infringement.

The 29-page complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Delaware said Arm, a subsidiary of Softbank Group Corp., seeks unspecified punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and an order prohibiting the use of Arm’s trademarked technology.

“Undeterred, Qualcomm and Nuvia have continued working on Nuvia’s implementation of Arm architecture in violation of Arm’s rights as the creator and licensor of its technology,” the lawsuit said.

In a statement, an Arm spokesman said the company takes pride in its role as innovator of the world’s most critical semiconductor intellectual property core and the billions of devices that run on it.

[RELATED STORY: Intel Calls Qualcomm A Top Strategic Account In Sales Reorg Memo ]

“These technological achievements have required years of research and significant costs and should be recognized and respected,” the statement said. “We will work vigorously to protect what is rightfully ours and we are confident that the courts will agree with us.”

At issue is Qualcomm’s 2021 purchase of Nuvia, the chip startup, for $1.4 billion. The complaint said Nuvia developed chip designs using Arm licenses and they can’t be transferred to Qualcomm without permission. Arm alleges the license agreement ended in February after a series of failed negotiations.

Arm said it is suffering irreparable harm to its name, reputation, and goodwill because of the actions of the defendants.

The complaint said Arm is seeking an injunction that would require Qualcomm to destroy designs developed under Nuvia’s previous license agreements.

The acquisition of Nuvia, a company launched by former Apple chip developers in 2019, was intended to kickstart Qualcomm’s efforts to make custom computing cores that would distinguish them from standard Arm designs used by competitors.

CRN has reached out to Qualcomm for comment. In a statement to Axios, Qualcomm said Arm has no right to interfere with Qualcomm’s or Nuvia’s innovations.

“Arm’s complaint ignores the fact that Qualcomm has broad, well-established license rights covering its custom-designed CPU’s, and we are confident those rights will be affirmed,” said Ann Chaplin, general counsel of Qualcomm, in the statement.

Dan Young, CEO of Xidax, a Salt Lake-City-based company that creates PCs for gaming, streaming, and workloads such as video and computer graphics, said he’s not surprised by the lawsuit.

“That’s just the normal course of business,” he said. “You see a lot of these companies, like Apple and Samsung, vying for IP (intellectual property) on a large scale and they want to protect it.”

The lawsuit comes months after Qualcomm was reportedly interested in buying a stake in Arm.

“We’re an interested party in investing,” Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon told the Financial Times this past May. “It’s a very important asset and it’s an asset which is going to be essential to the development of our industry.”

Learn More: CPUs-GPUs
Thomas Grillo

Thomas Grillo covers chips and the Internet of Things for CRN. He has covered the residential and commercial real estate sectors for The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Boston Business Journal, Banker & Tradesman, and Lynn’s Daily Item. He can be reached at tgrillo@thechannelcompany.com.

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