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Former Apple engineer says Qualcomm tech was his idea but doesn't claim patent

Apple has argued he co-invented the tech and should be named as an inventor.

Qualcomm booth at Broadband World Forum 2013

Qualcomm is one of the world's biggest makers of mobile chips. 

Stephen Shankland/CNET

A former Apple engineer testified Monday that some of his ideas are at the heart of a contentious intellectual property case, but stopped short of claiming he's an inventor on a disputed Qualcomm patent.

Arjuna Siva, a former Apple engineer, made the statements in testimony during a trial in San Diego over three patents that Qualcomm alleges Apple infringed in some models of its popular iPhone. Apple has argued that Siva should be named as a co-inventor of one of those patents, which covers technology that allows a smartphone to quickly connect to the internet once the device has booted up. 

On Monday, Siva, who canceled an original appearance at the trial only to later reverse that decision, didn't ask for credit for the patent in his testimony.

"I don't think I'm claiming to be an inventor," Siva, who now works at Google, told the court.

Siva's testimony may create a challenge for Apple, which had seen him as a key witness. After Siva backed out of testifying, Apple filed a subpoena for him to appear. 

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Though the engineer didn't claim to be an inventor, he did say he contributed to several elements of the technology that makes the boot-up process faster. "This was my idea," he told the court. He also said he was "surprised" and "upset" after Qualcomm filed for the patent. 

After Siva was dismissed from the stand, Apple reiterated its argument that he was a co-inventor of the technology. "I believe Mr. Siva should have been included" on the patent, said Bill Lin, an Apple expert witness and computer science professor at the University of California, San Diego. 

The patent case is part of a wide-ranging legal battle between the tech giants. Two years ago, the Federal Trade Commission accused Qualcomm of operating a monopoly in modem chips, a move that was backed by Intel and Apple. The agency argued Qualcomm's high royalty rates prevented competition and has, in turn, driven up the cost of phones and hurt consumers. A trial concluded in January and a decision is pending. 

The trial, presided over by US District Judge Dana Sabraw, is the most technical part of the multifront legal battle. But it could have implications for how your phone is made and what it costs. Aside from the boot-up patent, the companies are warring over a patent that covers graphics processing and battery life, and another that covers tech that lets apps download data more easily by shifting traffic between the apps processor and the modem.

When it comes to the boot-up patent, most of the events being discussed took place in 2010, a year before Apple started using chips from Qualcomm in its iPhones. Siva was asked why he still recalls so much from that time. He said he was "proud" when his ideas made it into the final product. 

"It's something I really remember, and look back with fondness," Siva said. "I was a kid two and a half years out of college. I thought it was a pretty big deal for me."