Sadly it does not look like Apple's spaceship will be repossessed as Qualcomm looks to acquire assets to the value of the money it is owed. Apple is so rich it probably has $7 billion in coins lost down the back of its corporate sofas.
Apple and Qualcomm are involved in a series of legal actions. Apple has accused Qualcomm of unfair patent licensing practices. Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile phone chip supplier, has accused Apple of patent infringement.
Qualcomm made its comments about the size of Apple’s unpaid royalties in a hearing in one of the cases in federal court in San Diego. Apple has disputed the fees that it owes to Qualcomm. But then its defence is always that suppliers have to be happy with whatever Apple agrees to pay them. Intel found that to its cost after it replaced Qualcomm in supplying modems for the iPhone and ending up making very little money from the deal.
Apple has argued that Qualcomm is forcing it to pay for the same patents twice, once when Apple uses Qualcomm’s chip in iPhones and then again through patent royalties. Qualcomm has argued that its practices are legal and that Apple is seeking to destroy Qualcomm’s business model after agreeing to it for years.