From the outside, the current legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple over the technology licensing fees that Qualcomm charges device manufacturers based on its patent portfolio looks like all-out, take-no-prisoners war. Apple is suing Qualcomm in the U.S. and China, and Qualcomm has responded with a lawsuit in China that aims to stop the manufacturing and sale of iPhones there.
But in an onstage conversation at the Wall Street Journal’s D.Live tech conference, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said that it all boils down to a negotiation over fees that can be resolved. “At the end, the important thing to remember is this is fundamentally a discussion about pricing over the fundamental technology that makes the phone the phone,” Mollenkopf said. “It comes down to, how much are you going to pay?” And Qualcomm has “a long history of providing value and settling these issues.”
Mollenkopf also said that the court wrangling with Apple doesn’t presage a new era in which device makers will be unwilling to pay licensing fees to Qualcomm, even though the company recently disclosed that another large customer was withholding payment. “This is more of an anomaly than anything else,” he said.