Commitments and Contingencies
|6 Months Ended
Mar. 26, 2023
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]
|Commitments and Contingencies
|Commitments and Contingencies
Legal and Regulatory Proceedings.
Consolidated Securities Class Action Lawsuit: On January 23, 2017 and January 26, 2017, securities class action complaints were filed by purported stockholders of us in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California against us and certain of our then current and former officers and directors. The complaints alleged, among other things, that we violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, by making false and misleading statements and omissions of material fact in connection with certain allegations that we are or were engaged in anticompetitive conduct. The complaints sought unspecified damages, interest, fees and costs. On May 4, 2017, the court consolidated the two actions, and on July 3, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended complaint asserting the same basic theories of liability and requesting the same basic relief. On May 23, 2022, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification, and a hearing on the motion was held on October 19, 2022. On March 20, 2023, the court issued an order granting in part and denying in part the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. The order denied class certification on the basis of alleged misrepresentations relating to our chip-level licensing practices, but certified a class on the basis of alleged misrepresentations relating to the separate operations of QCT and QTL. No trial date has been set.
On April 3, 2023, we filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) seeking permission to appeal the district court’s class certification order. We believe the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit.
Consumer Class Action Lawsuits: Beginning in January 2017, a number of consumer class action complaints were filed against us in the United States District Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of California, each on behalf of a putative class of purchasers of cellular phones and other cellular devices. In April 2017, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the cases that had been filed in the Southern District of California to the Northern District of California. On July 11, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended complaint alleging that we violated California and federal antitrust and unfair competition laws by, among other things, refusing to license standard-essential patents to our competitors, conditioning the supply of certain of our baseband chipsets on the purchaser first agreeing to license our entire patent portfolio, entering into exclusive deals with companies, including Apple Inc., and charging unreasonably high royalties that do not comply with our commitments to standard setting organizations. The complaint sought unspecified damages and disgorgement and/or restitution, as well as an order that we be enjoined from further unlawful conduct. On July 5, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification, and on September 27, 2018, the court granted that motion. We appealed the district court’s class certification order to the Ninth Circuit. On September 29, 2021, the Ninth Circuit vacated the class certification order, ruling that the district court had failed to correctly assess the propriety of applying California law to a nationwide class, and remanded the case to the district court. On June 10, 2022, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, limiting the proposed class to California residents rather than a nationwide class. On August 1, 2022, we filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint, and on November 15, 2022, the court held a hearing on our motion. On January 6, 2023, the court issued an order granting in part and denying in part our motion to dismiss. The order preserved the plaintiffs’ claims related to exclusive dealing under California antitrust and unfair competition laws and dismissed the remainder of the plaintiffs’ claims, which were related to our licensing practices. On April 7, 2023, we filed a motion for summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ remaining claims. A hearing on our motion is scheduled for July 20, 2023. We believe the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit.
Since November 2017, several other consumer class action complaints have been filed against us in Canada (in the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Quebec Superior Court), Israel (in the Haifa District Court) and the United Kingdom (in the Competition Appeal Tribunal), each on behalf of a putative class of purchasers of cellular phones and other cellular devices, alleging violations of certain of those countries’ competition and consumer protection laws. The claims in these complaints are similar to those in the U.S. consumer class action complaints. The complaints seek damages. We believe the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit.
ParkerVision, Inc. v. QUALCOMM Incorporated: On May 1, 2014, ParkerVision filed a complaint against us in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida alleging that certain of our products infringed seven ParkerVision patents. On August 21, 2014, ParkerVision amended the complaint, alleging that we infringed 11 ParkerVision patents and sought damages and injunctive and other relief. ParkerVision subsequently reduced the number of patents asserted to three. The asserted patents are now expired, and injunctive relief is no longer available. ParkerVision continues to seek damages related to the sale of many of our radio frequency (RF) products sold between 2008 and 2018. On March 23, 2022, the court entered judgment in our favor on all claims and closed the case. On April 20, 2022, ParkerVision filed a notice of appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. We believe that ParkerVision’s claims are without merit.
Arm Ltd. v. QUALCOMM Incorporated: On August 31, 2022, Arm Ltd. (ARM) filed a complaint against us in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. Our subsidiaries Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and NuVia, Inc. (Nuvia) are also named in the complaint. The complaint alleges that following our acquisition of Nuvia, we and Nuvia breached Nuvia’s Architecture License Agreement with ARM (the Nuvia ALA) by failing to comply with the termination obligations under the Nuvia ALA. The complaint seeks specific performance, including that we cease all use of and destroy any technology that was developed under the Nuvia ALA, including processor core technology. ARM also contends that we violated the Lanham Act through trademark infringement and false designation of origin through unauthorized use of ARM’s trademarks and seeks associated injunctive and declaratory relief. ARM further seeks exemplary or punitive damages, costs, expenses and reasonable attorney’s fees, and equitable relief addressing any infringement occurring after entry of judgment. We believe ARM’s claims are without merit.
On September 30, 2022, we filed our Answer and Counterclaim in response to ARM’s complaint denying ARM’s claims. Our counterclaim seeks a declaratory judgment that we did not breach the Nuvia ALA or the Technology License Agreement between Nuvia and ARM and that, following the acquisition of Nuvia, our architected cores (including all further developments, iterations or instantiations of the technology we acquired from Nuvia), server System-on-Chip (SoC) and
compute SoC are fully licensed under our existing Architecture License Agreement and Technology License Agreement with ARM (the ARM-Qualcomm Agreements). We further seek an order enjoining ARM from making any claim that our products are not licensed under the ARM-Qualcomm Agreements, are not ARM-compliant or that we are prohibited from using ARM’s marks in the marketing of any such products. On October 26, 2022, we filed an Amended Counterclaim seeking additional declaratory relief that certain statements ARM is making in the marketplace concerning our rights under the ARM-Qualcomm Agreements are false, and that ARM has no right to prevent us from shipping our products, which are validly licensed. Trial is scheduled to begin on September 23, 2024.
Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) Investigation (2015): On March 17, 2015, the KFTC notified us that it was conducting an investigation of us relating to the Korean Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act (MRFTA). On December 27, 2016, the KFTC announced that it had reached a decision in the investigation, finding that we violated provisions of the MRFTA. On January 22, 2017, we received the KFTC’s formal written decision, which found that the following conducts violate the MRFTA: (i) refusing to license, or imposing restrictions on licenses for, cellular communications standard-essential patents with competing modem chipset makers; (ii) conditioning the supply of modem chipsets to handset suppliers on their execution and performance of license agreements with us; and (iii) coercing agreement terms including portfolio license terms, royalty terms and free cross-grant terms in executing patent license agreements with handset makers. The KFTC’s decision orders us to: (a) upon request by modem chipset companies, engage in good-faith negotiations for patent license agreements, without offering unjustifiable conditions, and if necessary submit to a determination of terms by an independent third party; (b) not demand that handset companies execute and perform under patent license agreements as a precondition for purchasing modem chipsets; (c) not demand unjustifiable conditions in our license agreements with handset companies and, upon request, renegotiate existing patent license agreements; and (d) notify modem chipset companies and handset companies of the decision and order imposed on us and report to the KFTC new or amended agreements. According to the KFTC’s decision, the foregoing will apply to transactions between us and the following enterprises: (1) handset manufacturers headquartered in Korea and their affiliate companies; (2) enterprises that sell handsets in or to Korea and their affiliate companies; (3) enterprises that supply handsets to companies referred to in (2) above and the affiliate companies of such enterprises; (4) modem chipset manufacturers headquartered in Korea and their affiliate companies; and (5) enterprises that supply modem chipsets to companies referred to in (1), (2) or (3) above and the affiliate companies of such enterprises. The KFTC’s decision also imposed a fine of 1.03 trillion Korean won (approximately $927 million), which we paid on March 30, 2017.
On February 21, 2017, we filed an action in the Seoul High Court to cancel the KFTC’s decision. The Seoul High Court held hearings concluding on August 14, 2019, and on December 4, 2019, announced its judgment affirming certain portions of the KFTC’s decision and finding other portions of the KFTC’s decision unlawful. The Seoul High Court cancelled the KFTC’s remedial orders described in (c) above, and solely insofar as they correspond thereto, the Seoul High Court cancelled the KFTC’s remedial orders described in (d) above. The Seoul High Court dismissed the remainder of our action to cancel the KFTC’s decision. On December 19, 2019, we filed a notice of appeal to the Korea Supreme Court challenging those portions of the Seoul High Court decision that are not in our favor. The KFTC filed a notice of appeal to the Korea Supreme Court challenging the portions of the Seoul High Court decision that are not in its favor. On April 12, 2023, the Korea Supreme Court delivered its judgment, which dismissed all appeals by both Qualcomm and the KFTC, affirming the judgment of the Seoul High Court. The Korea Supreme Court judgment concludes the appeal process.
Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) Investigation (2020): On June 8, 2020, the KFTC informed us that it was conducting an investigation of us relating to the MRFTA. The KFTC did not provide a formal notice on the scope of its investigation, but we believe it concerned our business practices in connection with our sale of RFFE components. On April 18, 2023, the KFTC informed us that it had closed its investigation without finding any violation.
Icera Complaint to the European Commission (EC): On June 7, 2010, the EC notified and provided us with a redacted copy of a complaint filed with the EC by Icera, Inc. (subsequently acquired by Nvidia Corporation) alleging that we were engaged in anticompetitive activity. On July 16, 2015, the EC announced that it had initiated formal proceedings in this matter. On July 18, 2019, the EC issued a decision finding that between 2009 and 2011, we engaged in predatory pricing by selling certain baseband chipsets to two customers at prices below cost with the intention of hindering competition and imposed a fine of approximately 242 million euros. On October 1, 2019, we filed an appeal of the EC’s decision with the General Court of the European Union. From March 13, 2023 to March 15, 2023, the court held a hearing on our appeal. The court has not yet issued a ruling. We believe that our business practices do not violate the European Union (EU) competition rules.
In the third quarter of fiscal 2019, we recorded a charge of $275 million to other expenses related to the EC fine. We provided a financial guarantee in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 to satisfy the obligation in lieu of cash payment while we appeal the EC’s decision. The fine is accruing interest at a rate of 1.50% per annum while it is outstanding and included in other current liabilities.
Contingent Losses and Other Considerations: We will continue to vigorously defend ourselves in the pending matters described above. However, litigation and investigations are inherently uncertain, and we face difficulties in evaluating or estimating likely outcomes or ranges of possible loss, particularly in antitrust and trade regulation investigations. Other than with respect to the EC fine related to the Icera Complaint to the European Commission, we have not recorded any accrual at March 26, 2023 for contingent losses associated with these matters based on our belief that losses, while reasonably possible, are not probable. Further, any possible amount or range of loss cannot be reasonably estimated at this time. The unfavorable resolution of one or more of these matters could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition or cash flows. We are engaged in numerous other legal actions not described above arising in the ordinary course of our business (for example, proceedings relating to employment matters or the initiation or defense of proceedings relating to intellectual property rights) and, while there can be no assurance, we believe that the ultimate outcome of these other legal actions will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.