Qualcomm has dominated the smartphone chip market for years, but the company has had a harder time breaking into the PC market. So Qualcomm last year acquired a startup called Nuvia, which was already working on processors meant to compete with the chips that power Apple’s latest laptops and desktops.
Qualcomm and Nuvia make chips that use the architecture developed by ARM. But there seems to be a small problem: ARM is suing Qualcomm and Nuviaclaiming that the companies violated license and trademark agreements.
In a nutshell, Qualcomm and Nuvia paid for licenses to use ARM designs. But ARM claims that Qualcomm “attempted to transfer Nuvia licenses without ARM’s consent”, in violation of the chip designer’s licensing agreements. As a result, ARM says Nuvia’s licenses were terminated in March 2022 and 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 trademark infringement.” But what could be even more damaging is that ARM is seeking to force Qualcomm “to destroy certain Nuvia models”.
In other words, the lawsuit could set back Qualcomm and Nuvia’s efforts to develop chips for laptops, desktops and servers by months or more. And that could lead to hefty fines.