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Bob Giles – Exclusive Interview with Qualcomm's New Chief IP Counsel

Bob Giles – Exclusive Interview with Qualcomm's New Chief IP Counsel

Qualcomm is responsible for the smartphone revolution.  It started working on the technology back when many thought it was impossible.  Besides everyday users, one of the biggest beneficiaries of Qualcomm’ technology was Apple. 

Apple relied on the technology to make iPhones that grew its market cap to a record of $3 Trillion. However, eventually, Apple decided it was paying Qualcomm too much for the technology.

And, instead of agreeing to one fair arbitration process to settle the dispute, Apple decided to rely on scorched-earth litigation. The dispute between Apple and Qualcomm quickly blossomed into more than 100 cases around the world.  

But it wasn’t long before Qualcomm was racking up wins in China, Germany, and the US. Apple finally agreed to settle on the eve of another trial in the US in 2019.

Bob Giles was one of the people responsible for that Qualcomm victory. 

Two years after that, he was named Chief IP Counsel at Qualcomm.  He now shepherds a team that is responsible for managing and growing 140,000 IP assets and handling some of the most high-profile patent disputes in the world.

On this episode, Eli talks to Bob about his new role and the ongoing disagreements between innovators like Qualcomm and implementers like Apple. 

Episode Highlights 

[02:07] What’s Qualcomm all about?: Giles discusses how Qualcomm began, the early challenges it faced, and its business mission.

[05:37] Keeping the lights on: Giles tells the story of how Qualcomm entered a licensing agreement with Motorola in its early days.

[07:23] Qualcomm’s business model: Giles explains why Qualcomm’s model works and how it encourages innovation.

[10:01] Does the current system for standards and SEPs work?: Giles discusses the policy debates regarding these topics.

[19:55] Getting the dream job: Giles talks about what it was like to transition from patent litigation to Chief IP Counsel at Qualcomm, and what the Chief IP Counsel job entails. 

[28:42] What makes a great portfolio?: Qualcomm isn’t like other companies when it comes to patents. As chief IP counsel, Giles discusses what needs to be part of the company’s portfolio. 

[35:37] The million-dollar question: The law, and our interpretation of it, is changing all the time. How does a company like Qualcomm, with over 140,000 IP assets and offices all over the world, navigate those developments?    

[39:57] Apple v. Qualcomm: Giles discusses how he helped Qualcomm beat Apple

[43:13] Lessons learned: Giles discusses his major takeaways from litigating a large-scale, multinational case. 

[47:06] Why Qualcomm thrives: Giles shares the underappreciated aspects of Qualcomm and his take on why it has been so successful. 

[50:37] The innovation climate: Qualcomm was able to get an injunction for its patents in China and Germany, but not in the U.S. When impact does this have on American companies trying to innovate and protect their IP? 

[52:18] The ‘death squad of patents’?: The 2011 creation of a Patent Trial and Appeal Board, has been controversial, but has it damaged the U.S. IP system? What went wrong? Giles shares his thoughts.

[57:17] Know your field: Giles offers his advice for being successful in the IP field.  

Voice of IP
Clause 8
The podcast listened to by sophisticated in-house counsel, judges from around the world, IP policymakers, senior USPTO officials, and top patent dealmakers and attorneys to stay ahead of the curve by understanding the personalities and forces shaping IP.
Eli Mazour’s love of talking to people – along with his belief in the importance of America’s patent system – led him to start Clause 8. Clause 8 features conversations that provide strategic insights about how to best deal with various patent-related issues. Some of the previous guests include America’s great innovators, federal judges, USPTO Directors, top IP staffers on Capitol Hill, and Carole Baskin’s attorney from the documentary Tiger King.
It's the #1 podcast about IP and is in the top 2.5% of all podcasts according to Listen Score. The podcast has been covered and cited in many publications, including Bloomberg, Law360, Courthouse News Service, Above the Law, IAM, and Original Jurisdiction.