Qualcomm has dominated the smartphone chip market for years, but the company has had a tougher time breaking into the PC market. So Qualcomm acquired a startup called Nuvia last year, which was already working on processors meant to rival the chips that power Apple’s latest laptop and desktop computers.
Both Qualcomm and Nuvia make chips that use architecture developed by ARM. But there appears to be one small problem: ARM is suing Qualcomm and Nuvia, saying the companies violated licensing and trademark agreements.
In a nutshell, both Qualcomm and Nuvia had been paying for licenses to use ARM designs. But ARM says that Qualcomm “attempted to transfer Nuvia licenses without ARM’s consent,” in violation of the chip designer’s license agreements. As a result, ARM says Nuvia’s licenses were terminated in March, 2022 and that the companies should have stopped developing chips under that license.
If ARM’s lawsuit is successful, the company is asking the court to issue an “injunction against trademark infringement as well as fair compensation for the trademark infringement.” But what could be even more damaging is that ARM is seeking to force Qualcomm “to destroy certain Nuvia designs.”
In other words, the lawsuit could set back Qualcomm and Nuvia’s efforts to develop laptop, desktop and server-class chips by months, if not more. And it could result in hefty fines.