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NYC Litigation Blog

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Apple Faces Allegations of Trade Secret Theft

Qualcomm, a telecommunications company that focuses on the development and licensing of mobile phone chips, recently accused Apple of stealing trade secrets and giving them to competitor Intel Corp.  In its lawsuit, Qualcomm asserts that Apple unlawfully transmitted the company’s trade secrets for the purpose of improving upon chipsets like those manufactured by Intel, so that Intel could ultimately garner Qualcomm’s Apple-based business.  This lawsuit is just the most recent in a series of legal disputes between Apple and Qualcomm.  Our NYC trade secrets lawyers discuss the Qualcomm versus Apple battle and the ways in which your company can protect trade secrets below.

Qualcomm vs. Apple

Apple and Qualcomm have entered into a bitter legal battle involving intellectual property rights, trade secrets, royalties, and more.  Currently, Apple has sued Qualcomm in three different countries, and Qualcomm has multiple lawsuits against Apple.  Most recently, Qualcomm has sued alleging theft of trade secrets which the company claims Apple provided to Intel. This suit was filed in San Diego.  Qualcomm alleges that Apple shared secret elements of the company’s source code that it as a customer had access to.  This case will further unfold in the coming months.

On other grounds, Qualcomm is facing over one billion in fines from antitrust regulators in Europe.  The company has been determined to have unlawfully paid Apple to use its chips over chips of its competitors.  The practice ended at least two years ago, but nonetheless Qualcomm may be forced to pay the price.

Protecting Your Trade Secrets

While the feud between two tech companies may not in and of itself be of relevance to your business, the case’s focus on trade secrets should serve as a reminder of the importance of protecting your valuable trade secrets.  Generally, any confidential business information that offers your business a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret. Trade secrets could include customer lists, distribution methods, manufacturing processes, unique software, recipes, sales methods, and much more, depending on your specific type of business.

There are several ways to protect your trade secrets.  First, identify what could be considered a trade secret of your business.  Next, take steps to keep the information secret.  Only allow necessary employees access to the information.  Have employees or vendors who will need access to the information sign a confidentiality agreement.  Strictly enforce your agreement.  Contact a trade secrets attorney for more assistance with protecting your valuable business assets. 

 


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