Qualcomm upped the stakes in an ever-escalating row with Apple, accusing the technology giant of breaching conditions relating to confidential software which could have aided the chip company’s major rival Intel.

In a lawsuit document filed with a California state court in San Diego, Qualcomm said Apple had “enormous” commercial leverage over its suppliers, including Qualcomm, and had demanded access to confidential software including source code.

Upon obtaining the software, Qualcomm alleges Apple then breached a contract by failing to protect it. The company also argued the iPhone maker did not allow an audit review on the situation, a requirement within the terms and conditions.

“Apple agreed, as a condition of Qualcomm providing the above described software to Apple, to take a number of steps to maintain confidentiality and security of Qualcomm’s software,” the company stated in the filing.

Qualcomm said the terms of the agreement only allowed certain Apple engineers to access the software.

However, in an email request to Qualcomm in July seeking “highly confidential” information, Apple had included an Intel engineer on the distribution list.

In addition, Qualcomm said an Apple engineer working on a competitive vendor’s product asked an Apple engineer working on Qualcomm’s products to request assistance from Qualcomm relating “to a downlink decoding summary for carrier aggregation”.

Chip switch
Apple partnered with Intel in 2016 to use its chipsets on the iPhone 7 in addition to Qualcomm’s technology. Apple also uses a mix of both in the recently launched iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

Prior to this, Qualcomm was the exclusive chip provider for iPhone and iPads, but the two companies fell out at the start of this year after Apple took legal action over licensing and royalty payments, arguing the chipmaker is abusing its position and overcharging.

Qualcomm retorted with its own lawsuits, arguing Apple also abused its own power in attempts to pay less.

News of Qualcomm’s latest legal salvo comes after reports this week stating Apple is developing next year’s iPhones and iPads without Qualcomm’s technology altogether, instead relying on Intel and potentially MediaTek.