But Taneja admitted in the plea agreement that he and his co-defendants decided they wanted to personally profit from the invention instead of turning it over to Qualcomm. So they came up with a plan to hide Arabi’s involvement in a startup company that said it owned the technology that technically belonged to the chipmaker.
Qualcomm was tricked into agreeing to pay $180 million for technology it technically owned
Qualcomm didn’t know that its own employee had created the technology it bought because it was told that a Canadian graduate student working for the startup had invented it. The student was “played” by Arabi’s younger sister and she was listed as the inventor on provisional patents even though her brother filed the patent applications using fake email accounts to hide his identity.
Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Haden said, “Fraud and deceit undermine legitimate businesses and the marketplace, whether they victimize small businesses or multinational corporations and their shareholders. This office will seek justice against wrongdoers, big and small alike.”
Qualcomm is a fabless chipmaker which means that while it designs its own chips, it doesn’t own the facilities to manufacture them. Thus, the company relies on contract foundries like TSMC and Samsung Foundry and has used both of those companies to manufacture its Snapdragon line of application processors. Currently, TSMC builds Qualcomm’s current flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.