• U.S. markets: More big bank earnings are on tap this week. Experts are looking for signs of economic health in their Q1 reports. So far, so good.
  • Fed drama: Just when you think it's settled down...President Trump tweeted that the stock market would be up "5,000 to 10,000 additional points" if the Fed had acted differently.

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Apple and Qualcomm Do Not Like Each Other

It's time to get acquainted with the long-running drama between Apple and Qualcomm that makes last night's Thrones seem like How to Train Your Dragon.

Driving the news: Today, Apple's patent lawsuit against Qualcomm is set to begin jury selection in San Diego. During the $27 billion trial, the CEOs of both companies are expected to take the stand...

Which could be awkward

According to the WSJ, Apple's Tim Cook and Qualcomm's Steve Mollenkopf had a very...tense meeting a year ago to hash out patent issues.

  • As the Journal puts it, "The awkwardness punctuated a distant relationship between the chief executives that has turned their companies' conflict into one of the ugliest corporate battles in history." Getting strong dragonpit vibes.

What's the beef in the first place?

Nearly 34-year-old Qualcomm pioneered cellular communications in the 1990s that eventually became the norm on most mobile devices. Because of that, it can charge patent royalties on just about every smartphone sold--a large chunk of its bottom line.

  • Apple says...it's unfair to base royalties on a phone's total price. Under that logic, Qualcomm makes more money when manufacturers add high-tech innovations that inevitably drive up prices.
  • Qualcomm says...its business model has helped fund new tech innovations. And that Apple/its partners violated licensing contracts and infringed on patents.

Large numbers alert
Apple wants Qualcomm to repay $3.1 billion for patent rights it says Qualcomm's exhausted. And Qualcomm says some Apple partners owe over $7.5 billion in unpaid royalties. Plus, it says Apple should foot a penalty of $15 billion or more.

Bottom line: This dispute has legal implications on three separate continents, not to mention Apple is one of the world's biggest smartphone sellers and Qualcomm is one of the biggest chip designers.

For consumers, failure to reach common ground could mean a change in iPhone connectivity speeds...and further delay a meaningful iPhone 5G rollout.


Publicis Strikes Data Gold

French advertising titan Publicis Groupe will pay $4.4 billion for Epsilon, the marketing services unit of Alliance Data Systems, in its largest deal to date.

Publicis is one of the world's biggest ad companies, but it's struggled to win yardage in the data analytics space. Epsilon will give Publicis the ability to match disparate pieces of consumer data to build out segments for better targeting.

It's all about data these days. The rules of the ad game have changed as digital marketing usurps traditional ads (like those TV commercials you stopped watching in 2016). And good digital marketing requires good digital targeting.

Plus, there are new players. Consulting firms like Accenture have begun to flex their own creative muscles, and data giants like Facebook and Google have threatened to cut agencies out of the ad buying space altogether.

Zoom out: Publicis's Epsilon deal is further proof that, on Madison Avenue, talking about consumer data has replaced Don Draper references. If you want a modern business, you need modern data solutions. Can we that?


Pardon the Supreme Court's French

Today, the highest court in the land will hear a free speech case brought by Erik Brunetti, a clothing designer with a streetwear brand called "FUCT," or Friends U Can't Trust. Brunetti's suing the government for refusing to register a trademark for FUCT, which it considers to be "immoral" and "scandalous."

  • If you're worried that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will sound like Eric Cartman during arguments today, Brunetti's lawyer assures you, "The discussion will be purely clinical, analogous to when medical terms are discussed."

So what are Brunetti's chances? Pretty fucting good, according to experts. A federal appeals court ruled in his favor in 2017, writing that the First Amendment protects private expression even when it's "offensive to a substantial composite of the general public."

Zoom out: The 29-year-old brand will live on, whether the Supreme Court gives FUCT the W or not. What's at stake is how effectively Brunetti can hunt down copycats.


We Finally Found Something That Can Guard Giannis

You're looking at the Stratolaunch, the largest airplane by wingspan ever to fly. It took off in the California desert Saturday and stayed in the air for 2.5 hours, achieving a max speed of 189 mph.

Big airplanes require big vision, so don't look so surprised to learn the Stratolaunch was the brainchild of Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft. Like Richard Branson, he was bullish on launching rockets from planes like the Stratolaunch instead of relying on ground launches.

When Allen died last October, the venture was scaled back. But that doesn't mean engineers can't geek out about the specs on this aircraft:

  • Its 385-ft wingspan is longer than a football field.
  • It comes equipped with 28 wheels, six 747 engines, and two fuselages.
  • Max takeoff weight = 1.3 million lbs


The Week Ahead

Why is this week different from all other weeks?

Monday: Tax Day; earnings (Citigroup, Goldman Sachs)

Tuesday: Industrial production; Shanghai auto show begins; earnings (Johnson & Johnson, UnitedHealth, Bank of America, Netflix, IBM, BlackRock)

Wednesday: International trade; China GDP data; Indonesia elections; earnings (PepsiCo, Abbott Laboratories, Morgan Stanley, U.S. Bancorp, BNY Mellon)

Thursday: Jobless claims; retail sales; earnings (Union Pacific, Philip Morris, Honeywell, American Express)

Friday: Housing starts; Good Friday and markets are closed; Passover begins


Your Week Ahead

For Reader Takeover Week, we asked you what's in store over the next five days.

Monday: Boston Marathon festivities for MA readers; Jerad's expecting his first baby; Ankit is going to frame the black hole pic and give it to a physics teacher who inspired him

Tuesday: Dan is defending his master's thesis on electronic communication and social support for HIV-positive men, then crushing beer and pizza; Katy's getting a musical ready for its world premiere in West Virginia

Wednesday: Michaela's audit team just finished the busy season and to celebrate they're playing paintball--upper management versus associates; KT will be in Texas hosting a focus group with a very vocal group of unsatisfied customers

Thursday: Julia and the UVA women's golf team start postseason play; Jeff has staff lunch on Thursday! FREE FOOD!; MP is voting in India's elections, the world's largest democratic exercise

Friday: Many of you are having Passover seders and getting ready for Easter; Austin's going to an Earth Day party and drinking out of a pineapple; Kashia's going on a backcountry trip with 13 strangers (hoping for the best but bringing plenty of whiskey)


  • The Writers Guild of America instructed its 13,000 members to fire their agents after negotiations broke down.
  • Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were temporarily down early Sunday, but go ahead and post that "spring has sprung" pic--they're back online.
  • Volkswagen plans to build a fully electric SUV for the Chinese market from 2021. It's a direct competitor to the Tesla Model X.
  • American Airlines has canceled all Boeing 737 Max flights through August 19. That's about 115 flights per day.
  • Rite Aid will stop selling all e-cigarette and vaping products. Regular tobacco products get to stay, though.


Reader Trivia
Zac from North Woodmere offered this interesting question: Name four U.S. colleges that are also colors (Syracuse Orange doesn't count because "Orange" is the nickname, not the name of the institution).

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Breakroom Answers

Reader Trivia
Auburn University, Navy, Brown University, and Siena College

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Apr 15, 2019