Qualcomm hit with multimillion-dollar BlackBerry refund

12 Apr 2017

BlackBerry. Image: Vdovichenko Denis/Shutterstock

BlackBerry has been overpaying Qualcomm in royalties for a number of years, with the latter now having to repay $815m.

Qualcomm, traditionally known for manufacturing cutting-edge microchips for mobile devices, is finding itself tied up in a lot of legal battles lately.

Deep into a billion-dollar dispute with Apple, it has fallen foul of another smartphone manufacturer this month.

A long-winded dispute with BlackBerry over royalty fees and caps has seen Qualcomm landed with a hefty $815m bill.


The conflict began in 2016 after the chip manufacturer agreed to cap certain royalties applied to payments made by BlackBerry under a licensing deal.

Qualcomm said it doesn’t agree with the decision of the arbitration panel, but the payment is binding and cannot be appealed, according to Reuters.

The cash boost will enable BlackBerry to continue its repositioning, following years of smartphone sale declines.

BlackBerry claimed it was overpaying the company in royalty payments before an agreement to enter settlement discussions was reached one year ago.

A final award, which will include interest and attorneys’ fees, will be issued after a hearing on May 30.

Despite the dispute, BlackBerry will remain partners with Qualcomm, with Blackberry CEO John Chen saying that his company will collaborate “specifically for security in the auto industry and in application-specific integrated circuits”, according to CNBC.

An Apple a day

In January, the US Federal Trade Commission filed charges against Qualcomm, alleging that the latter uses anticompetitive tactics to stop rivals from supplying components to handset companies.

Apple is suing the chipmaker in three countries on claims that it is charging exorbitant royalties for unique Apple innovations. At the time, Qualcomm president Derek Aberle accused the iPhone maker of “withholding information” in regulatory disputes.

Yesterday (11 April), Qualcomm announced that it was countersuing Apple, striking out at what it says are Apple’s alleged efforts to undermine and devalue its contribution to the technologies that power the iPhone. It claims that the popular device would not be possible without the use of its technology.

BlackBerry. Image: Vdovichenko Denis/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic