Chipset major Qualcomm says its smartphone customer Apple has stolen its chip-making secrets and gave them to rival Intel.
Apple switched to Intel’s improved semiconductors, which may have cost Qualcomm billions of dollars in lost sales.
The accusation, made in a legal filing on Tuesday, is the latest salvo in a drawn-out patent dispute between the two tech heavyweights, Reuters reported.
Qualcomm in a November lawsuit accused Apple of misusing secret Qualcomm software to share information about its chips with Intel engineers.
Qualcomm on Tuesday said Apple stole Qualcomm trade secrets as part of a campaign of sloppy, inappropriate and deceitful conduct designed to improve rivals’ chipsets and divert Qualcomm’s Apple-based business to Intel.
Apple declined to comment. Intel, which is not named as a defendant in Qualcomm’s lawsuit, declined to comment.
Apple previously used Qualcomm’s modem chips in its iPhones to connect the device to wireless data networks. Apple began using Intel modem chips in the iPhone 7, launched in 2016.
Qualcomm told investors in July that Apple removed Qualcomm modem chips from the latest iPhones released this month, leaving Intel as the sole supplier. Teardowns of the new devices have confirmed that Intel is supplying the modem chips.
Apple last month alleged that Qualcomm refused to answer its questions about which specific confidential information it had improperly shared with Intel. Apple has alleged that it gave Qualcomm the chance to verify that Qualcomm’s software had been used properly.
Qualcomm gave Apple access its source code and software development tools so Apple could modify Qualcomm’s software for use in the iPhone, on the condition that Apple did not use the code or tools to help another chipmaker.
In Tuesday’s filing, Qualcomm alleged that Apple used the tools to open log files from Qualcomm and then gave those files to Intel engineers. Log files contain rows of data generated by computer hardware or software, and engineers often analyze them to pinpoint technical problems and optimize the performance of a chip.
“Intel engineers even complained to Apple engineers about being unable to open Qualcomm log files, which Apple had provided to Intel, for lack of the appropriate Qualcomm tools,” Qualcomm said in its filing.
“In response, Apple engineers routinely used Qualcomm tools to create post-processed log files, which they sent to Intel engineers to use in improving Intel’s chipset solutions,” it added.