Apple's dispute with Qualcomm is making plenty of headlines this week, but Qualcomm isn't the only supplier with whom Apple is having a bit of a spat. Back in April, Imagination Technologies announced that Apple had decided not to use its PowerVR GPU technology in upcoming A-series SoCs. Today, Apple gave a statement to Bloomberg that not only challenges Imagination's account of the timeline of events between the two companies, but also provides information that has the potential to be legally damaging to the British firm.
When it first revealed that its relationship with Apple would be coming to an end, Imagination suggested it was caught off-guard by the decision. Apple had been using the PowerVR graphics IP in various devices since the release of the first iPhone, and the majority of Imagination's revenue came from its contract with Cupertino. Since Apple's announcement, Imagination's stock price has fallen by more than half of its prior value this year.
In its statement today, Apple tells a different story. The company says it informed Imagination that it was winding down their relationship as early as 2015. Furthermore, Cupertino says that in 2016, it exercised a clause in its contract with Imagination that allowed it to pay a lower licensing rate by using less of Imagination's intellectual property. For its part, Apple said that it "valued" its relationship with Imagination and wanted to ensure the IP licensing firm would have enough time to adjust its plans in light of the impending end of the companies' deal.
Whichever side you believe in this matter, the situation is "almost certainly" going to be investigated by financial regulators, according to a barrister in touch with Bloomberg. That legal expert said Imagination has a responsibility to promptly inform its shareholders about events that could deeply affect its share price under British law, and if Imagination knew about Apple's plans in 2015, it may not have met that standard of disclosure. The situation is also likely to be complicated further by Imagination itself, who has publicly expressed doubt that Apple can design its own GPU architecture without infringing on its intellectual property. Whatever sad chapter comes next in this drama is almost certainly going to play out in a courtroom.
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