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Arm sues Qualcomm over Nuvia chip design licensesArm sues Qualcomm over Nuvia chip design licenses

UK chip designer accuses Qualcomm of misuse and wants certain Nuvia designs destroyed and (unspecified) financial compensation.

Ken Wieland

September 1, 2022

2 Min Read
Arm sues Qualcomm over Nuvia chip design licenses

UK-based chip designer Arm, owned by Japan's SoftBank, has filed a US lawsuit against Qualcomm, one of its biggest customers.

Arm's umbridge is focused on what it believes is Qualcomm's breach of contract related to chip design licenses held by Nuvia, a CPU tech startup Qualcomm bought for US$1.4 billion last year.

In a statement Arm said it's "seeking specific performance of the contractual obligation to destroy certain Nuvia designs, an injunction against trademark infringement, as well as fair compensation for the trademark infringement."

Figure 1: Arm has filed a US lawsuit against Qualcomm, one of its biggest customers. (Source: Qualcomm) Arm has filed a US lawsuit against Qualcomm, one of its biggest customers.
(Source: Qualcomm)

Prior to Qualcomm's purchase of Nuvia, the startup was in possession of CPU chip design licenses from Arm. According to Arm, however, Qualcomm snaffled the licenses for its own use without permission, saving the expense of buying them directly.

"Because Qualcomm attempted to transfer Nuvia licenses without Arm's consent, which is a standard restriction under Arm's license agreements, Nuvia's licenses terminated in March 2022," said Arm.

"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 license agreement by continuing development under the terminated licenses."

Arm claimed it was left with "no choice" other than to file a lawsuit against Qualcomm and Nuvia "to protect our IP, our business, and to ensure customers are able to access valid Arm-based products."

Arm ruefully added that, along with partners, it had "invested billions of dollars to create industry-leading intellectual property. The claim, which didn't specify the amount of compensation Arm is seeking, is designed – according to the UK chip designer – to protect "the unparalleled ecosystem we have built together."

More disappointed than angry?

In a brief statement, as reported by the Financial Times (paywall applies), Qualcomm said the lawsuit "marks an unfortunate departure from its longstanding, successful relationship."

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It added that "Arm has no right, contractual or otherwise, to attempt to interfere with Qualcomm's or Nuvia's innovations."

"Arm's complaint ignores the fact that Qualcomm has broad, well-established license rights covering its custom-designed CPUs, and we are confident those rights will be affirmed."

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Ken Wieland

contributing editor

Ken Wieland has been a telecoms journalist and editor for more than 15 years. That includes an eight-year stint as editor of Telecommunications magazine (international edition), three years as editor of Asian Communications, and nearly two years at Informa Telecoms & Media, specialising in mobile broadband. As a freelance telecoms writer Ken has written various industry reports for The Economist Group.

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