Qualcomm Technologies

Arm sues Qualcomm over Nuvia tie-up

Qualcomm hopes to integrate Nuvia’s technology into its system-on-a-chip products based on Arm cores – but Arm says this infringes its IP

Arm has filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm and Nuvia for breach of licence agreements and trademark infringement. The chipmaker filed the lawsuit against Qualcomm and two of its subsidiaries in the US District Court for the District of Delaware. 

In a statement about the lawsuit, the company’s officials said: “Arm is filing this claim to protect Arm, our partners, and the unparalleled ecosystem we have built together. Arm and its partners have invested billions of dollars to create industry-leading intellectual property.

“Because Qualcomm attempted to transfer Nuvia licences without Arm’s consent, which is a standard restriction under Arm’s licence agreements, Nuvia’s licences terminated in March 2022. Before and after that date, Arm made multiple good faith efforts to seek a resolution. In contrast, Qualcomm has breached the terms of the Arm licence agreement by continuing development under the terminated licences. Arm was left with no choice other than to bring this claim against Qualcomm and Nuvia to protect our IP, our business, and to ensure customers are able to access valid Arm-based products.”

Arm’s business model is based on licensing chip designs to chip manufacturers, who are able to integrate the technology into their own designs, such as system-on-a-chip semiconductors. “Arm takes pride in our role as innovator of the world’s most critical semiconductor IP and the billions of devices that run on Arm,” a spokesperson for Arm added.

“These technological achievements have required years of research and significant costs and should be recognised and respected. As an intellectual property company, it is incumbent upon us to protect our rights and the rights of our ecosystem. We will work vigorously to protect what is rightfully ours and we are confident that the courts will agree with us.”

Earlier this year, Qualcomm announced plans to acquire Nuvia for $1.4bn. At the time, Qualcomm said it expected Nuvia CPUs would be integrated across Qualcomm Technologies’ portfolio of products, powering smartphones, laptops, network equipment, digital cockpits and advanced driver assistance systems.

At the time, Jim Thompson, chief technology officer of Qualcomm, said: “Creating high-performance, low-power processors and highly integrated, complex SoCs are part of our DNA. Adding Nuvia’s deep understanding of high-performance design and integrating Nuvia CPUs with Snapdragon – together with our industry-leading graphics and AI – will take computing performance to a new level and drive new capabilities for products that serve multiple industries.”

According to some news reports on the internet, Arm’s lawsuit is being seen as an attempt by the chipmaker to derail the Qualcomm/Nuvia deal.

Earlier this year, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon told the FT that the company wanted to buy a stake in Arm in order to maintain its independence. “We are an interested party,” he said. “It’s a very important asset and it’s an asset which is going to be essential for the development of our industry.”

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