Apple Names Katherine Adams, a Former Honeywell Exec, as New General Counsel


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

The company said that Adams would also assume as senior vice president of legal and global security.She is said to report to Chief Executive Tim Cook.

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

The company said that Bruce Sewell, who has been the general counsel of Apple since 2009, will retire at the end of 2017. Sewell, who transferred to Apple from Intel Corp, led Apple through its extensive patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd regarding the original iPhone’s design patents, a case that is still simmering almost six years after it was filed and has reached the U.S. Supreme Court eventually. Currently, a U.S. appeals court is working to determine the final amount of damages that Samsung owes Apple.

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

Qualcomm has been sued by Apple over that practice in U.S. civil courts as well as 11 foreign jurisdictions. Qualcomm has taken action against Apple before the U.S. International Trade Commission attempting to ban imports of some iPhones. A separate civil lawsuit was filed by Qualcomm accusing Apple of infringing the patents at issue in that action. An antitrust complaint from the U.S.Federal Trade Commission is also faced by Qualcomm. Also, four of the contract manufacturers of Apple has sued Qualcomm on antitrust allegations, and that lawsuit was joined by Apple.