Arm sued Qualcomm for a breach of contractual obligations and patent infringements. The dispute was caused by the 2021 acquisition of chip startup Nuvia.

According to Arm, chip manufacturer Qualcomm committed a breach of contract by attempting to transfer Nuvia’s Arm licenses without permission after it acquired Nuvia in January 2021. Arm responded by terminating the licenses, but Qualcomm allegedly continued to develop licensed Arm-based processors anyway.

Breach of terms

Arm’s licenses were granted to Nuvia in 2019 under special conditions. Among other things, Nuvia was allowed to modify and develop custom cores on Arm’s architecture. The parties agreed the licenses could not be transferred to another party.

Following the acquisition of Nuvia, Qualcomm allegedly transferred the licenses to a custom entity. The companies are said to have negotiated the licenses’ transfer without reaching an agreement.

As a result, the licenses were terminated. Qualcomm and Nuvia allegedly continued to develop processors based on the Arm Phoenix core and use Arm’s patent for Nuvia processors.

Going to court

According to Arm, there is no other option but to take Qualcomm and Nuvia to court. In doing so, Arm hopes to secure its intellectual property. Arm wants the lawsuit to put an end to several Nuvia chip designs and alleged patent infringements. In addition, Arm is demanding damages.

Possible setback for Qualcomm

The lawsuit can have serious consequences for Qualcomm and its plans surrounding data center server processors. The chip manufacturer wants to develop a more diverse product range to compensate for disappointing sales in the smartphone market. If Arm is proven right in court, Qualcomm’s product range diminishes.

Tip: ‘Qualcomm plans return to server chip market’