Qualcomm's Snapdragon X processors, which are scheduled to start shipping next week, could face a potential destruction order, albeit an unlikely one, as reported by Reuters.

The legal battle between Arm and Qualcomm has been ongoing for nearly two years, focusing on the technology used in Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon X processors. Arm alleges that Qualcomm has used designs from Nuvia without authorization after acquiring the company, and has demanded that Qualcomm cease using Nuvia's designs and destroy the related chips.

Nuvia was founded by the team that created Apple's A-series chips, and Qualcomm acquired it in 2021 for $1.4 billion in an effort to compete with Apple's Arm processors. The Snapdragon X series chips are developed based on the technology acquired from Nuvia and are set to be equipped in upcoming computers from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung, and others in the Copilot+ series.

The case is set to be heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in December 2024. The specifics of the licensing agreement between the two parties are not clear, but the crux of the dispute lies in:

Before being acquired by Qualcomm, Nuvia had obtained authorization from Arm to design server CPU cores. Arm believes that Qualcomm's reuse of this authorization after acquiring Nuvia constitutes a breach of contract, demanding that Qualcomm stop using and destroy all chips based on Nuvia's designs.

Qualcomm, on the other hand, argues that it has extensive authorization that covers PC processors and can legally use the related technology.

"Arm's lawsuit against Qualcomm and Nuvia is to protect the interests of the Arm ecosystem and its partners, who rely on our intellectual property and innovative designs. We demand that Qualcomm comply with the contract and stop using Nuvia designs derived from Arm technology," said an Arm spokesperson.

Ann Chaplin, Qualcomm's Chief Legal Officer, stated at the end of 2022, "Arm's allegations ignore the fact that Qualcomm has extensive licensing rights covering its custom CPU designs, and we believe these rights will be confirmed in court."

The execution of Arm's demand poses a significant challenge. Qualcomm has already partnered with several computer manufacturers and plans to begin shipping Copilot+ computers equipped with Snapdragon X processors on June 18. If all chips using Nuvia's designs were to be destroyed, it would mean that at least a dozen computer shipments would have to be halted within the next week.

Moreover, the trial does not begin until the end of the year, by which time the first computers equipped with Snapdragon X processors would have already been sold.

The focus of this legal dispute is not just the Snapdragon X series processors; Qualcomm has announced that it will apply Nuvia technology to chip designs for smartphones, automotive, augmented reality devices, and more. Arm hopes that through this lawsuit, it can reach a favorable agreement with Qualcomm on licensing fees for future new chips.

AndroidCentral suggests that from Arm's perspective, if Qualcomm had not acquired Nuvia, the outcome of the chip licensing negotiations might have been very different, or Arm might not have agreed to the licensing at all. However, considering that the two parties have been entangled for two years and Qualcomm has not received any injunction, the likelihood of the Copilot+ computer shipments being halted seems slim. A more likely outcome is that Qualcomm and Arm will reach some kind of settlement agreement, as the two parties still have cooperation in other areas, with the core issue being how to share profits.