Apple names former Honeywell executive as new general counsel

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The Apple logo is pictured inside the newly opened Omotesando Apple store at a shopping district in Tokyo June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/Files

Apple Inc. said on Friday its general counsel, Bruce Sewell, will retire and be succeeded by former Honeywell International Inc executive Katherine Adams, who will take over Apple’s multinational legal battle against Qualcomm Inc.

Adams, who will also be senior vice president of legal and global security, will report to Chief Executive Tim Cook, the company said.

Before joining Honeywell in 2003, Adams was an attorney with Sidley Austin LLP in New York. Earlier, she had served as a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and for Stephen Breyer, who was then an appeals court judge but later was appointed to the Supreme Court.

Sewell, who has been Apple’s general counsel since 2009, will retire at the end of the year, the company said. Sewell, who came to Apple from Intel Corp., guided Apple through its massive patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd over design patents for the original iPhone, a case that is still simmering nearly six years after it was filed and eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court. A U.S. appeals court is currently working to decide the final amount of damages Samsung owes Apple.

In taking the legal reins at Apple, Adams will take over a wide-ranging dispute with Qualcomm over how that chipmaker licenses its technology to Apple. At the heart of the dispute is Qualcomm’s long-held practice of charging a percentage of the total price of iPhones and other Apple devices as a licensing fee for its mobile connectivity patent portfolio.

Apple has sued Qualcomm over that practice in U.S. civil courts as well as 11 foreign jurisdictions.

Qualcomm has brought an action against Apple before the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking to ban imports of some iPhones. Qualcomm filed a separate civil lawsuit accusing Apple of infringing the patents at issue in that action.

Qualcomm also faces an antitrust complaint from the U.S.Federal Trade Commission. In addition, four of Apple’s contract manufacturers have sued Qualcomm on antitrust allegations, and Apple has joined that lawsuit.

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