Apple dismissed Qualcomm's tech in public, while praising it in private

The iPhone maker called Qualcomm's engineering "the best" in a memo, according to a Washington Post report.

CNET News staff
2 min read

Apple and Qualcomm have battled over licensing fees.

Viva Tung/CNET

Apple publicly dismissed Qualcomm's technology during a two-year legal battle even though it had privately praised the chipmaker's products, according to a Washington Post story that cited sealed court documents

Executives at the iPhone maker called Qualcomm's engineering "the best" in one memo, while another memo said the chipmaker had a "unique patent share," according to the report.

The sealed documents were obtained by Qualcomm during the discovery phase of a trial that ended in a surprise settlement on Tuesday, a day after it had started. The settlement ended legal disputes in China, Germany and other countries, in addition to the US. 

Apple and its manufacturing partners had argued that Qualcomm's royalty fees, which Qualcomm based on a customer's entire device, were too high and that they should pay only for the company's modem chips. Qualcomm argued that its technology enables many other elements of the phone, such as GPS and multimedia, and that Qualcomm deserved compensation for those breakthroughs.

Apple had purchased Qualcomm modems for its iPhones for years until the falling out. One 2009 memo said Qualcomm is "widely considered the owner of the strongest patent portfolio for essential and relevant patents for wireless standards," according to the Post. An Apple hardware executive wrote, "Engineering wise, they have been the best."

An Apple representative said the company is willing to pay fair prices for the technology it uses in its products. Qualcomm didn't respond to a request for comment.

Originally published April 20, 10:08 a.m. PT
Update, 1:27 p.m.: Updates with Apple response.