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Qualcomm (QCOM) to Settle License Dispute with BlackBerry

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Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM - Free Report) , the largest mobile chipset manufacturer using baseband technology globally, will settle a licensing dispute with BlackBerry Limited by paying U.S. $940 million, on or before May 31, 2017. The settlement includes an $815 million payment plus interest, attorneys’ fees and net of certain royalties due from BlackBerry for calendar 2016 and the first quarter of calendar 2017. This is in relation to the over-payment by BlackBerry to Qualcomm in royalty payments from 2010 to 2015 under terms of a licensing deal.

This marks a big victory for BlackBerry which is focused on expanding its software development and licensing businesses. The company expects this monetary addition to be free from taxes.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry is hitting headlines with a number of patent litigations. In the beginning of this year, it filed a lawsuit against Nokia stating that the latter has violated as many as 11 of its patents in offerings to carriers including AT&T and T-Mobile. Last August, it filed a 105-page patent lawsuit against Avaya, which was followed by another suit accusing Blu Products violating 15 of its patents.

Same goes for Qualcomm, as it is not the first time when the company is getting engaged in any lawsuits and their payments. In Jan 2017, it was slapped with a $1 billion lawsuit related to licensing royalty payments by tech giant Apple Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) accusing Qualcomm of overcharging for chips and refusing to pay some $1 billion in promised rebates. Prior to this was an anti-trust lawsuit from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, on grounds of anticompetitive measures to maintain a monopoly in baseband chipset market.

On Apr 10, 2017, Qualcomm counter attacked Apple mentioning the value of its invented technologies, their contribution and share in the industry through its licensing program. Recently, the company updated one of its lawsuits providing more evidences that Apple is interfering with its existing arrangements with the contract manufacturing firms. In this recent amendment of lawsuit, Qualcomm stated that Apple has been withholding payments to suppliers and encouraging them to similarly withhold those amounts from Qualcomm, all the while promising to indemnify the suppliers if Qualcomm takes legal action.

Intel Corp. (INTC - Free Report) and Media Tek are the closest competitors of Qualcomm in this field. In addition to iOS, Qualcomm chipsets are vastly used in Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google developed Android software and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT - Free Report) developed Windows operating system.

We expect Qualcomm to quickly resolve all such disputes and focus on its growth strategies. Moreover, aggressive competition in the mobile phone chipset market remain headwinds for the company.

Price Performance and Zacks Rank

Over the past three months, Qualcomm’s share price has grown 0.89% but failed to beat the Zacks categorized Wireless Equipment industry’s gain of 4.73%.

Meanwhile, the share price of BlackBerry has returned 61.25%, outshining the Zacks categorized Wireless Non-US industry’s 7.24% gain, over the same time frame.

Both Qualcomm and BlackBerry currently carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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