Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Sep. 25, 2011
Notes to Financial Statements [Abstract]  
Note 9 - Commitments and Contingencies
Note 9. Commitments and Contingencies
     Legal Proceedings. Tessera, Inc. v. QUALCOMM Incorporated: On April 17, 2007, Tessera filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) pursuant to Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 against the Company and other companies, alleging infringement of two patents. The district court action is stayed pending resolution of the ITC proceeding, including all appeals. On May 20, 2009, the ITC issued a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order, both of which were terminated when the patents expired on September 24, 2010. During the period of the exclusion order, the Company shifted supply of accused chips for customers who manufacture products that may be imported to the United States to a licensed supplier of Tessera, and the Company continued to supply those customers without interruption. On December 21, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision affirming the ITC’s orders, and on March 29, 2011, it declined to reconsider that decision. The Company has appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which may or may not accept this case for appeal. Once the stay is lifted, Tessera may continue to seek back damages in the district court, but it may not seek injunctive relief due to the expiration of the patents.
MicroUnity Systems Engineering, Inc. v. QUALCOMM Incorporated et al.: MicroUnity filed a total of three patent infringement complaints, on March 16, 2010, June 3, 2010 and January 27, 2011, against the Company and a number of other technology companies, including Texas Instruments, Samsung, Apple, Nokia, Google and HTC, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaints against the Company allege infringement of a total of 15 patents and appear to accuse the Company’s Snapdragon products. The district court consolidated the actions in May 2011. The claim construction hearing is set for August 12, 2012, and trial is scheduled for June 3, 2013. On September 30, 2011, the court denied the Company’s motion to sever the claims against it from the other defendants and to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
    Broadcom Corporation et al. v. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO): On November 10, 2009, Broadcom and Atheros (Note 12), which was acquired by the Company in May 2011, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against (CSIRO) in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, requesting the court to declare, among other things, that United States patent number 5,487,069 (the ’069 Patent) assigned to CSIRO is invalid, unenforceable and that Atheros does not infringe any valid claims of the ’069 Patent. On October 14, 2010, CSIRO filed a complaint against Atheros and Broadcom (amended and consolidated with complaints against other third parties on April 6, 2011) alleging infringement of the ’069 Patent. A claim construction hearing was held on October 4, 2011, and trial is scheduled for April 9, 2012.
MOSAID Technologies Incorporated v. Dell, Inc. et al.: On March 16, 2011, MOSAID filed a complaint against Atheros and 32 other entities in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. In its infringement contentions, MOSAID alleges that certain of Atheros’ products infringe United States patent numbers 5,131,006, 5,151,920, 5,422,887, 5,706,428, 5,563,786 and 6,992,972. MOSAID seeks unspecified damages and other relief. Discovery has not yet begun. A claim construction hearing is scheduled for February 18, 2014, and trial is scheduled for August 4, 2014.
     India BWA Spectrum: In connection with the BWA spectrum won in India in June 2010, the Company recorded a payment in noncurrent other assets, which was $994 million and $1.1 billion at September 25, 2011 and September 26, 2010, respectively. In addition, the Company created four wholly-owned subsidiaries. On August 9, 2010, each subsidiary filed an application to obtain a license to operate a wireless network on this spectrum for one of the respective regions. Thereafter, two Indian companies each acquired 13% of each subsidiary. On September 21, 2011, the Company received a letter dated September 7, 2011 from the Government of India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) (the DoT Letter) notifying the Company that its applications had been rejected based on its conclusion that the applications were filed after the deadline and that the Company was restricted to filing one application rather than four. On September 27, 2011, the Company filed a petition with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) seeking to overturn the DoT Letter. On September 28, 2011, the TDSAT issued an order granting the Company interim relief, pending a final determination of the case, directing the DoT to (i) not issue the spectrum that has been earmarked to the Company to anyone else and (ii) not forfeit or appropriate the payment that the Company made for the spectrum. On October 10, 2011, one of the Company’s subsidiaries received a letter from the DoT offering to issue it a license that would cover all of India, including the four regions for which the Company won spectrum at the June 2010 auction, assuming that the subsidiary met certain requirements by November 9, 2011. On October 18, 2011, the subsidiary submitted to the DoT a letter accepting the DoT’s offer, requesting issuance of a license as soon as possible after the requirements were met, and stating that upon issuance of the license, the Company’s three other subsidiaries would merge into the subsidiary that had been granted a license. On October 19, 2011, the DoT filed a reply to the Company’s September 27, 2011 petition with the TDSAT. In its reply, the DoT stated that upon issuance of a license, the Company’s subsidiary could apply for assignment of the spectrum, and at that time, the DoT would decide whether to grant the requested assignment and whether the Company’s applications for licenses were timely filed in accordance with its rules. On October 20, 2011, the TDSAT conducted a second hearing on the Company’s case. At the conclusion of the hearing, the TDSAT ordered the DoT to clarify the aforementioned statements in its October 19, 2011 reply in light of its October 10, 2011 offer. The TDSAT scheduled another hearing for November 8, 2011. If the Company does not ultimately prevail, the Company’s subsidiary may not receive a license or an assignment of the spectrum that the Company won in the auction; and in either of those events, the Company’s payment for the spectrum may not be returned.
Icera Complaint to the European Commission: On June 7, 2010, the European Commission (the Commission) notified and provided the Company with a redacted copy of a complaint filed with the Commission by Icera, Inc. alleging that the Company has engaged in anticompetitive activity. The Company has been asked by the Commission to submit a preliminary response to the portions of the complaint disclosed to it, and the Company submitted its response in July 2010. On October 19, 2011, the Commission notified the Company that it should provide to the Commission additional documents and information. The Company continues to cooperate fully with the Commission’s preliminary investigation.
Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) Complaint: On January 4, 2010, the KFTC issued a written decision, finding that the Company had violated South Korean law by offering certain discounts and rebates for purchases of its CDMA chips and for including in certain agreements language requiring the continued payment of royalties after all licensed patents have expired. The KFTC levied a fine, which the Company paid in the second quarter of fiscal 2010. The Company is appealing that decision in the Korean courts. The Company recorded a charge of $230 million in other operating expenses related to this fine in fiscal 2009.
     Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) Complaint: The JFTC received unspecified complaints alleging that the Company’s business practices are, in some way, a violation of Japanese law. On September 29, 2009, the JFTC issued a cease and desist order concluding that the Company’s Japanese licensees were forced to cross-license patents to the Company on a royalty-free basis and were forced to accept a provision under which they agreed not to assert their essential patents against the Company’s other licensees who made a similar commitment in their license agreements with the Company. The cease and desist order seeks to require the Company to modify its existing license agreements with Japanese companies to eliminate these provisions while preserving the license of the Company’s patents to those companies. The Company disagrees with the conclusions that it forced its Japanese licensees to agree to any provision in the parties’ agreements and that those provisions violate the Japanese Antimonopoly Act. The Company has invoked its right under Japanese law to an administrative hearing before the JFTC. In February 2010, the Tokyo High Court granted the Company’s motion and issued a stay of the cease and desist order pending the administrative hearing before the JFTC. The JFTC has had ten hearing days to date, with an additional hearing day scheduled on December 15, 2011 and additional hearing days yet to be scheduled.
     Formal Order of Private Investigation: On September 8, 2010, the Company was notified by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Los Angeles Regional office of a formal order of private investigation. The Company understands that the investigation arose from a “whistleblower’s” allegations made in December 2009 to the audit committee of the Company’s Board of Directors and to the SEC. The audit committee completed an internal review with the assistance of independent counsel and independent forensic accountants. This internal review into the allegations and related accounting practices did not identify any errors in the Company’s financial statements. The Company continues to cooperate with the SEC’s ongoing investigation.
     Other: The Company has been named, along with many other manufacturers of wireless phones, wireless operators and industry-related organizations, as a defendant in purported class action lawsuits, and individually filed actions pending in federal court in Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. superior court, seeking monetary damages arising out of its sale of cellular phones. The federal class action has been dismissed, leaving only the individually filed actions in Washington D.C. active.
While there can be no assurance of favorable outcomes, the Company believes the claims made by other parties in the foregoing matters are without merit and will vigorously defend the actions. The Company has not recorded any accrual at September 25, 2011 for contingent liabilities or recognized any asset impairment charges during fiscal 2011 associated with the legal proceedings described above based on the Company’s belief that liabilities, while possible, are not probable. Further, any possible range of loss cannot be reasonably estimated at this time. The Company is engaged in numerous other legal actions not described above arising in the ordinary course of its business and, while there can be no assurance, believes that the ultimate outcome of these actions will not have a material adverse effect on its operating results, liquidity or financial position.
     Litigation Settlement, Patent License and Other Related Items. On April 26, 2009, the Company entered into a Settlement and Patent License and Non-Assert Agreement with Broadcom. The Company agreed to pay Broadcom $891 million, of which $589 million was paid through September 25, 2011, and the remainder will be paid ratably through April 2013. The Company recorded a pre-tax charge of $783 million in other operating expenses related to this agreement in fiscal 2009. At September 25, 2011, the carrying value of the liability was $294 million, which also approximated the fair value of the contractual liability net of imputed interest.
   Loans Payable Related to India BWA Spectrum. In connection with the India BWA spectrum won in India in June 2010, certain of the Company’s subsidiaries in India entered into loan agreements with multiple lenders that are denominated in Indian rupees. The loans bear interest at an annual rate based on the highest rate among the bank lenders, which is reset quarterly, plus 0.25% (10% at September 25, 2011) with interest payments due monthly. The loans are due and payable in full in December 2012. As of September 25, 2011, all but one of the lenders had the right to demand prepayment of its portion of the loans outstanding on December 15, 2011 subject to sufficient prior written notice. As a result, the loans were classified as a component of current liabilities. The date by which those lenders were required to have given notice has now passed, and those lenders can no longer demand prepayment. One remaining lender can demand prepayment of its portion of the loans outstanding on February 28, 2012 ($152 million at September 25, 2011) if notice is given by December 15, 2011. The loan agreements also define certain events as events of default, including, among other things, if certain government authorizations are revoked, terminated, withdrawn, suspended, modified or withheld. If the DoT’s rejection of the Company's license applications were to be considered an event of default, the bank lenders could declare the loans due and payable immediately. The Company has received waivers from each of the bank lenders related to this matter until at least April 1, 2012, conditioned upon the Company continuing to pursue its legal rights in this matter, and agreeing that any default will be deemed cured under certain circumstances, including if one of the relevant subsidiaries is granted the license and the other three are pursuing a merger into the subsidiary that has been offered a license. The loans can be prepaid without penalty on certain dates and are guaranteed by QUALCOMM Incorporated and one of its subsidiaries. The loan agreements contain standard covenants, which, among other things, limit actions by the subsidiaries that are party to the loan agreements, including the incurrence of loans and equity investments, disposition of assets, mergers and consolidations and other matters customarily restricted in such agreements. At September 25, 2011, the aggregate carrying value of the loans was $994 million, which approximated fair value. Cash amounts paid for interest on the loans were $94 million and $15 million for fiscal 2011 and 2010, respectively.
     Indemnifications. With the exception of the practices of Atheros, which the Company acquired in May 2011 (Note 12), the Company generally does not indemnify its customers and licensees for losses sustained from infringement of third-party intellectual property rights. However, the Company is contingently liable under certain product sales, services, license and other agreements to indemnify certain customers against certain types of liability and/or damages arising from qualifying claims of patent infringement by products or services sold or provided by the Company. The Company’s obligations under these agreements may be limited in terms of time and/or amount, and in some instances, the Company may have recourse against third parties for certain payments made by the Company. Under Atheros’ indemnification agreements, software license agreements and product sale agreements, including its standard software license agreements and standard terms and conditions of semiconductor sales, Atheros agrees, subject to restrictions and after certain conditions are met, to indemnify and defend its licensees and customers against third-party claims asserting infringement of certain intellectual property rights, which may include patents, copyrights, trademarks or trade secrets, and to pay any judgments entered on such claims against the licensees or customers. Through September 25, 2011, Atheros has received a number of claims from its direct and indirect customers and other third parties for indemnification under such agreements with respect to alleged infringement of third-party intellectual property rights by Atheros’ products.
These indemnification arrangements are not initially measured and recognized at fair value because they are deemed to be similar to product warranties in that they relate to claims and/or other actions that could impair the ability of the Company’s direct or indirect customers to use the Company’s products or services. Accordingly, the Company records liabilities resulting from the arrangements when they are probable and can be reasonably estimated. Reimbursements under indemnification arrangements have not been material to the Company’s consolidated financial statements. The Company has not recorded any accrual for contingent liabilities at September 25, 2011 associated with these indemnification arrangements, other than negligible amounts for reimbursement of legal costs, based on the Company’s belief that additional liabilities, while possible, are not probable. Further, any possible range of loss cannot be estimated at this time.
     Purchase Obligations. The Company has agreements with suppliers and other parties to purchase inventory, other goods and services and long-lived assets. Noncancelable obligations under these agreements at September 25, 2011 for each of the subsequent five years from fiscal 2012 through 2016 were approximately $1.9 billion, $62 million, $40 million, $37 million and $27 million, respectively, and $9 million thereafter. Of these amounts, for fiscal 2012 and 2013, commitments to purchase integrated circuit product inventories comprised $1.4 billion and $2 million, respectively.
    Leases. The future minimum lease payments for all capital leases and operating leases at September 25, 2011 were as follows (in millions):


















Total minimum lease payments



Deduct: Amounts representing interest

Present value of minimum lease payments

Deduct: Current portion of capital lease obligations

Long-term portion of capital lease obligations


The Company leases certain of its land, facilities and equipment under noncancelable operating leases, with terms ranging from less than one year to 35 years and with provisions in certain leases for cost-of-living increases. Rental expense for fiscal 2011, 2010 and 2009 was $87 million, $85 million and $80 million, respectively. The Company leases certain property under capital lease agreements associated with its discontinued operations (Note 11), primarily related to site leases that have an initial term of five to seven years with renewal options of up to five additional renewal periods. In determining the capital lease classification for the site leases upon commencement of each lease, the Company included all renewal options. As a result of its restructuring plan, the Company does not intend to renew its existing site capital leases. At September 25, 2011, the Company had $149 million of site capital lease assets (which are included in buildings and improvements in property, plant and equipment) and $170 million of capital lease obligations (which are included in other liabilities) that pertain to lease optional renewal periods. The Company expects to write off these amounts at the end of the current contractual lease terms. Any early terminations may impact the amounts that are written off.