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Commitments and Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Sep. 25, 2016
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies
Commitments and Contingencies
Legal Proceedings. ParkerVision, Inc. v. QUALCOMM Incorporated: On May 1, 2014, ParkerVision filed a complaint against the Company in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida alleging that certain of the Company’s products infringe certain ParkerVision patents. On August 21, 2014, ParkerVision amended the complaint, now captioned ParkerVision, Inc. v. QUALCOMM Incorporated, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., HTC Corporation, HTC America, Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., LTD., Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC, broadening the allegations. ParkerVision alleged that the Company infringes 11 ParkerVision patents and seeks damages and injunctive and other relief. On September 25, 2015, ParkerVision filed a motion with the court to sever some claims against the Company and all other defendants into a separate lawsuit. In addition, on December 3, 2015, ParkerVision dismissed six patents from the lawsuit and granted the Company and all other defendants a covenant not to assert those patents against any existing products. On February 2, 2016, after agreement among the parties, the District Court stayed the remainder of the case pending the resolution of the complaint filed by ParkerVision against the Company and other parties with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) described below.
On December 14, 2015, ParkerVision filed another complaint against the Company in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida alleging patent infringement. Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., LTD., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC, Samsung Semiconductor, Inc., LG Electronics, Inc., LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc. and LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc. are also named defendants. The complaint asserts that certain of the Company’s products infringe four additional ParkerVision patents and seeks damages and other relief. On December 15, 2015, ParkerVision filed a complaint with the ITC pursuant to Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 against the same parties asserting the same four patents. The complaint seeks an exclusion order barring the importation of products that use either of two Company transceivers or one Samsung transceiver and a cease and desist order preventing the Company and the other defendants from carrying out commercial activities within the United States related to such products. On January 13, 2016, the Company served its answer to the District Court complaint. On January 15, 2016, the ITC instituted an investigation. The ITC hearing is scheduled to begin on March 13, 2017. The ITC’s target date for completion of the investigation is October 23, 2017. The District Court case was stayed on February 12, 2016 pending completion of the ITC investigation. The Company believes ParkerVision’s claims in the above matters are without merit.
Blackberry Limited (Blackberry) Arbitration: On April 20, 2016, the Company and Blackberry entered into an agreement to arbitrate Blackberry’s allegation that it overpaid royalties on certain past sales of subscriber units based on the alleged effect of specific provisions in its license agreement. The arbitration, which is scheduled to begin on February 27, 2017, is being conducted under the rules of the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services in San Diego, California. Blackberry seeks the return of the alleged overpayment. The Company believes Blackberry’s claims are without merit.
3226701 Canada, Inc. v. Qualcomm Incorporated et al: On November 30, 2015, plaintiffs filed a securities class action complaint against the Company and certain of its current and former officers in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. On April 29, 2016, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint alleging that the Company and certain of its current and former officers violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, by making false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s business outlook and product development between April 7, 2014 and July 22, 2015. The amended complaint seeks unspecified damages, interest, attorneys’ fees and other costs. On June 28, 2016, the Company filed a Motion to Dismiss. The Company believes the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit.
QUALCOMM Incorporated v. Meizu Technology Co., Ltd. et al: On June 23, 2016 and June 29, 2016, the Company filed a series of actions against Meizu Technology Co., Ltd., aka Zhuhai Meizu Technology Co., Ltd. (Meizu) and certain of its distributors in the Intellectual Property Courts in Beijing and Shanghai (China). The first complaint, filed in Beijing on June 23, 2016, requests rulings that the terms of a patent license offered by the Company to Meizu comply with China’s Anti-Monopoly Law and the Company’s applicable fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing commitment. The complaint also seeks a ruling that the offered patent license terms should form the basis for a patent license with Meizu for the Company’s fundamental mobile device technologies patented in China, including those relating to 3G (WCDMA and CDMA2000) and 4G (LTE) wireless communications standards, and seeks damages for Meizu’s past use of the Company’s patented inventions. On June 29, 2016, the Company filed patent infringement complaints in the Intellectual Property Courts in Beijing and Shanghai alleging infringement of 17 patents by Meizu. The patent infringement actions concern a broad range of features and technologies used in smartphones, including features relating to 3G (WCDMA and CDMA2000) and 4G (LTE) wireless communications standards, and seek to enjoin Meizu from manufacturing, selling and offering for sale mobile devices that infringe the asserted patents. The courts are currently considering various jurisdictional challenges raised by Meizu. No final schedules have been set by the courts. Meizu has also filed actions before China’s Patent Reexamination Board challenging the validity of each of the asserted patents. These actions are proceeding in parallel with the litigation.
On October 14, 2016, the Company filed patent infringement complaints against Meizu in the United States ITC and the Mannheim Regional Court in Germany. The ITC complaint seeks an exclusion order enjoining Meizu and certain of its distributors from the importation, sale for importation and sale after importation of Meizu mobile devices that infringe certain of the Company’s patents related to semiconductor, radio frequency and digital camera technologies. The German complaint seeks damages and to enjoin Meizu from offering, putting into circulation, using, possessing or importing into Germany mobile devices that infringe one of the Company’s patents related to wireless messaging technology. On the same day, the Company also initiated a seizure action in France pursuant to orders from the Paris District Court to obtain evidence for a possible future infringement action in that country.
Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) Complaint: The JFTC received unspecified complaints alleging that the Company’s business practices are, in some way, a violation of Japanese law. On September 29, 2009, the JFTC issued a cease and desist order concluding that the Company’s Japanese licensees were forced to cross-license patents to the Company on a royalty-free basis and were forced to accept a provision under which they agreed not to assert their essential patents against the Company’s other licensees who made a similar commitment in their license agreements with the Company. The cease and desist order seeks to require the Company to modify its existing license agreements with Japanese companies to eliminate these provisions while preserving the license of the Company’s patents to those companies. The Company disagrees with the conclusions that it forced its Japanese licensees to agree to any provision in the parties’ agreements and that those provisions violate the Japanese Antimonopoly Act. The Company has invoked its right under Japanese law to an administrative hearing before the JFTC. In February 2010, the Tokyo High Court granted the Company’s motion and issued a stay of the cease and desist order pending the administrative hearing before the JFTC. The JFTC has held hearings on 33 different dates, with the next hearing scheduled for January 17, 2017.
Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) Complaint: On January 4, 2010, the KFTC issued a written decision finding that the Company had violated Korean law by offering certain discounts and rebates for purchases of its CDMA chipsets and for including in certain agreements language requiring the continued payment of royalties after all licensed patents have expired. The KFTC levied a fine, which the Company paid and recorded as an expense in fiscal 2010. The Company appealed to the Seoul High Court, and on June 19, 2013, the Seoul High Court affirmed the KFTC’s decision. On July 4, 2013, the Company filed an appeal with the Korea Supreme Court. There have been no material developments since then with respect to this matter.
Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) Investigation: On March 17, 2015, the KFTC notified the Company that it is conducting an investigation of the Company relating to the Korean Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act (MRFTA). On November 13, 2015, the Company received a case Examiner’s Report (ER) prepared by the KFTC’s investigative staff. The ER alleges, among other things, that the Company is in violation of Korean competition law by licensing its patents exhaustively only to device manufacturers and requiring that its chipset customers be licensed to the Company’s intellectual property. The ER also alleges that the Company obtains certain terms, including royalty terms, that are unfair or unreasonable in its license agreements through negotiations that do not conform to Korean competition law. The ER proposes remedies including modifications to certain business practices and monetary penalties. On May 27, 2016, the Company submitted a written response to the ER. The KFTC is holding hearings, which commenced on July 20, 2016. It remains difficult to predict the outcome of this matter. The Company believes that its business practices do not violate the MRFTA. The Company continues to cooperate with the KFTC as it conducts its investigation.
Icera Complaint to the European Commission (Commission): On June 7, 2010, the Commission notified and provided the Company with a redacted copy of a complaint filed with the Commission by Icera, Inc. (subsequently acquired by Nvidia Corporation) alleging that the Company has engaged in anticompetitive activity. The Company was asked by the Commission to submit a preliminary response to the portions of the complaint disclosed to it, and the Company submitted its response in July 2010. Subsequently, the Company provided additional documents and information as requested by the Commission. On July 16, 2015, the Commission announced that it had initiated formal proceedings in this matter. On December 8, 2015, the Commission announced that it had issued a Statement of Objections expressing its preliminary view that between 2009 and 2011, the Company engaged in predatory pricing by selling certain baseband chipsets to two customers at prices below cost, with the intention of hindering competition. A Statement of Objections informs the subject of the investigation of the allegations against it and provides an opportunity to respond to such allegations. It is not a determination of the final outcome of the investigation. On August 15, 2016, the Company submitted its response to the Statement of Objections. If a violation is found, a broad range of remedies is potentially available to the Commission, including imposing a fine and/or injunctive relief prohibiting or restricting certain business practices. It is difficult to predict the outcome of this matter or what remedies, if any, may be imposed by the Commission. The Company believes that its business practices do not violate the EU competition rules.
European Commission (Commission) Investigation: On October 15, 2014, the Commission notified the Company that it is conducting an investigation of the Company relating to Articles 101 and/or 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). On July 16, 2015, the Commission announced that it had initiated formal proceedings in this matter. On December 8, 2015, the Commission announced that it had issued a Statement of Objections expressing its preliminary view that since 2011 the Company has paid significant amounts to a customer on condition that it exclusively use the Company’s baseband chipsets in its smartphones and tablets. This conduct has allegedly reduced the customer’s incentives to source chipsets from the Company’s competitors and harmed competition and innovation for certain baseband chipsets. A Statement of Objections informs the subject of the investigation of the allegations against it and provides an opportunity to respond to such allegations. It is not a determination of the final outcome of the investigation. On June 27, 2016, the Company submitted its response to the Statement of Objections. If a violation is found, a broad range of remedies is potentially available to the Commission, including imposing a fine and/or injunctive relief prohibiting or restricting certain business practices. It is difficult to predict the outcome of this matter or what remedies, if any, may be imposed by the Commission. The Company believes that its business practices do not violate the EU competition rules.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Investigation: On September 17, 2014, the FTC notified the Company that it is conducting an investigation of the Company relating to Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA). The FTC has notified the Company that it is investigating conduct under the antitrust and unfair competition laws related to standard essential patents and pricing and contracting practices with respect to baseband processors and related products. If a violation is found, a broad range of remedies is potentially available to the FTC, including imposing a fine or requiring modifications to the Company’s business practices. At this stage of the investigation, it is difficult to predict the outcome of this matter or what remedies, if any, may be imposed by the FTC. The Company believes that its business practices do not violate the antitrust or unfair competition laws. The Company continues to cooperate with the FTC as it conducts its investigation.
Taiwan Fair Trade Commission (TFTC) Investigation: On December 4, 2015, the TFTC notified the Company that it is conducting an investigation into whether the Company’s patent licensing arrangements violate the Taiwan Fair Trade Act (TFTA). On April 27, 2016, the TFTC specified that the allegations under investigation include whether: (i) the Company jointly licensed its patents rather than separately licensing standard-essential patents and non-standard-essential patents; (ii) the Company’s royalty charges are unreasonable; (iii) the Company unreasonably required licensees to grant it cross-licenses; (iv) the Company failed to provide lists of licensed patents to licensees; (v) the Company violated a FRAND licensing commitment by declining to grant licenses to chipset makers; (vi) the Company declined to sell chipsets to unlicensed potential customers; and (vii) the Company provided royalty rebates to certain companies in exchange for their exclusive use of the Company’s chipsets. If a violation is found, a broad range of remedies is potentially available to the TFTC, including imposing a fine or requiring modifications to the Company’s business practices. At this stage of the investigation, it is difficult to predict the outcome of this matter or what remedies, if any, may be imposed by the TFTC. The Company believes that its business practices do not violate the TFTA. The Company continues to cooperate with the TFTC as it conducts its investigation.
The Company will continue to vigorously defend itself in the foregoing matters. However, litigation and investigations are inherently uncertain. Accordingly, the Company cannot predict the outcome of these matters. The Company has not recorded any accrual at September 25, 2016 for contingent losses associated with these matters based on its belief that losses, while possible, are not probable. Further, any possible range of loss cannot be reasonably estimated at this time. The unfavorable resolution of one or more of these matters could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s business, results of operations, financial condition or cash flows. The Company is engaged in numerous other legal actions not described above arising in the ordinary course of its business and, while there can be no assurance, believes that the ultimate outcome of these other legal actions will not have a material adverse effect on its business, results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.
Indemnifications. The Company generally does not indemnify its customers and licensees for losses sustained from infringement of third-party intellectual property rights. However, the Company is contingently liable under certain product sales, services, license and other agreements to indemnify certain customers against certain types of liability and/or damages arising from qualifying claims of patent, copyright, trademark or trade secret infringement by products or services sold or provided by the Company. The Company’s obligations under these agreements may be limited in terms of time and/or amount, and in some instances, the Company may have recourse against third parties for certain payments made by the Company.
Through September 25, 2016, the Company has received a number of claims from its direct and indirect customers and other third parties for indemnification under such agreements with respect to alleged infringement of third-party intellectual property rights by its products. These indemnification arrangements are not initially measured and recognized at fair value because they are deemed to be similar to product warranties in that they relate to claims and/or other actions that could impair the ability of the Company’s direct or indirect customers to use the Company’s products or services. Accordingly, the Company records liabilities resulting from the arrangements when they are probable and can be reasonably estimated. Reimbursements under indemnification arrangements have not been material to the Company’s consolidated financial statements. The Company has not recorded any accrual for contingent liabilities at September 25, 2016 associated with these indemnification arrangements, other than nominal amounts, based on the Company’s belief that additional liabilities, while possible, are not probable. Further, any possible range of loss cannot be reasonably estimated at this time.
Purchase Obligations. The Company has agreements with suppliers and other parties to purchase inventory, other goods and services and long-lived assets. Obligations under these agreements at September 25, 2016 for each of the subsequent five years from fiscal 2017 through 2021 were $4.2 billion, $886 million, $749 million, $223 million and $37 million, respectively, and $5 million thereafter. Of these amounts, for each of the subsequent four years from fiscal 2017 through 2020, commitments to purchase integrated circuit product inventories comprised $3.4 billion, $766 million, $673 million, and $158 million, respectively, and there were no purchase commitments thereafter. Integrated circuit product inventory obligations represent purchase commitments for semiconductor die, finished goods and manufacturing services, such as wafer bump, probe, assembly and final test. Under the Company’s manufacturing relationships with its foundry suppliers and assembly and test service providers, cancelation of outstanding purchase commitments is generally allowed but requires payment of costs incurred through the date of cancelation, and in some cases, incremental fees related to capacity underutilization.
Operating Leases. The Company leases certain of its land, facilities and equipment under noncancelable operating leases, with terms ranging from less than one year to 21 years and with provisions in certain leases for cost-of-living increases. Rental expense for fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 was $116 million, $99 million and $91 million, respectively. Future minimum lease payments at September 25, 2016 for each of the subsequent five years from fiscal 2017 through 2021 were $94 million, $74 million, $58 million, $43 million and $33 million, respectively, and $36 million thereafter.