ARM is suing Qualcomm and Nuvia, a company bought by the chipmaker in 2021, alleging that the firms broke their agreements to utilize Arm’s CPU designs and architecture. Arm claims that the rights it granted Nuvia prior to its acquisition are no longer valid now that it is under new ownership. If Arm prevails in its lawsuit, Qualcomm may be obliged to delete any work done with the specific licenses in question, which would be a huge blow for Qualcomm’s plans to produce desktop and server processors utilizing Nuvia’s technology.
According to Arm’s complaint, it granted Nuvia licenses in 2019 to use its “off-the-shelf” processor designs as well as to build its own designs using Arm’s architecture. Arm also provided the startup with “substantial, critical, and individualized support” for its work to develop server-grade processors. Arm generates revenue through licensing fees and royalties from products that employ its technology, such as Nvidia’s computing devices with Arm processors or the MacBooks and iPhones that use Apple silicon. (Nuvia was developed by engineers who worked on the A-series semiconductors featured in iPhones and iPads.)
The issues appear to have started when Qualcomm paid $1.4 billion for Nuvia. According to the complaint, Arm informed Qualcomm that it could not utilize Nuvia’s licenses without Arm’s permission after the business indicated that it intended to employ the startup’s technology in many devices. Arm’s attorneys claim they spent “more than a year” attempting to reach an arrangement for Qualcomm’s usage of Nuvia’s licenses.