Arm launched a lawsuit against Qualcomm Wednesday, alleging that the semiconductor giant violated a license agreement that governed the use of Arm's chip designs by its recently acquired Nuvia unit.
Nuvia had been developing new Arm-based chips as an independent company and had purchased a license from Arm to use its technology in server processors. But after it was acquired by Qualcomm in 2021, Arm alleged that Qualcomm failed to secure the proper permission to transfer Arm’s tech and the chip schematics based on it, or make its own chips based on what Nuvia was developing.
“These technological achievements have required years of research and significant costs and should be recognized and respected,” Arm said in a statement. “As an intellectual property company, it is incumbent upon us to protect our rights and the rights of our ecosystem.”
“Arm’s lawsuit marks an unfortunate departure from its longstanding, successful relationship with Qualcomm. Arm has no right, contractual or otherwise, to attempt to interfere with Qualcomm’s or NUVIA’s innovations. Arm’s complaint ignores the fact that Qualcomm has broad, well-established license rights covering its custom-designed CPU’s, and we are confident those rights will be affirmed," said Ann Chaplin, general counsel of Qualcomm, in a statement.
Arm’s lawsuit said that it terminated the licenses Nuvia had in March 2022, which ended Qualcomm’s right to develop chips based on what Nuvia had made or market such processors as based on Arm's technology. The lawsuit seeks to force Qualcomm to destroy several designs based on Nuvia’s processors.
The litigation also asks for compensation for trademark infringement, and injunction to prevent further use of Arm’s trademarks related to the chip designs that Nuvia developed. Arm is asking for an unspecified amount of damages related to its allegations.
Qualcomm bought Nuvia for over $1 billion in 2021. Nuvia was founded by several former Apple and Google chip engineers in 2019 and was developing a number of Arm-based server chips ahead of the acquisition.
At the time of the acquisition, Qualcomm said Nuvia would shift its focus to consumer chips, and Qualcomm has announced its intention to make a desktop processor that would rival Apple’s in-house M series processors .
But a recent report suggested that Qualcomm had once again revived its server-chip efforts — a previous attempt to crack the server market died years ago — leading to speculation among chip industry insiders that it planned to update Nuvia’s original efforts based on Arm designs.
This story was updated throughout as additional information became available, and later to include comment from Qualcomm.