Arm has filed a lawsuit against chip giant Qualcomm and its subsidiary Nuvia, for breaching license agreements and trademark infringement.
The Cambridge-based company is looking to force Nuvia to destroy one of its designs, the Nuvia Phoenix core, as well as getting an injunction against the alleged trademark infringement and “fair compensation”.
In a statement, an Arm spokesperson alleged that Qualcomm has “attempted to transfer Nuvia licenses without Arm’s consent, which is a standard restriction under Arm’s license agreements”.
How did this all happen?
The spokesperson went on to allege that: “Qualcomm has breached the terms of the Arm license agreement by continuing development under the terminated licenses”.
“Arm was left with no choice other than to bring this claim against Qualcomm and Nuvia to protect our IP, our business, and to ensure customers are able to access valid Arm-based products,” they added.
Ann Chaplin, General Counsel of Qualcomm, responded to the lawsuit, telling Reuters, “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.”
The companies have a close commercial relationship, Qualcomm has relied on external licenses from Arm since it stopped designing its own customer cores.
Nuvia emerged in 2019 as start-up lead Gerard Williams, an ex-Apple exec semiconductor veteran, who has previously served as the chief architect of Apple’s iPhone chips.
The start-up obtained an architectural license to use custom designs from Arm, with the aim of designing its own server microprocessors
In January 2021, Nuvia was bought by Qualcomm, a rival of Arm in the semiconductor space, for $1.4 billion.
Regardless of its legal activity, ARM has been making some great strides in some areas of its business.
Apple transitioned to using ARM-based processor designs in its Macs in 2020, and as result, 10% of the global PC market is now powered by ARM.
In addition, ARM-based hardware is now becoming more visible in the data centre world.
Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud have recently begun offering ARM-based VMs to their users, a departure from the X86 processors they had previously used.
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