Apple said on Friday its general counsel, Bruce Sewell, will retire and be succeeded by Katherine Adams, the former Honeywell International Inc executive. She will also be senior vice president of legal and global security, will report to Chief Executive Tim Cook, the company said.
Adams is a “seasoned leader with outstanding judgment and that has worked on a wide variety of legal cases globally. Throughout her career she’s also been an advocate on many of the values we at Apple hold dear,” Tim Cook said in a prepared statement. Her title will also make her the senior VP of Legal and Global Security. He also thanked Mr Sewell for having “tirelessly defended our IP, our customers’ right to privacy and our values”.
Adams has guided the legal department at Honeywell — a conglomerate that produces software, engineering for transportation and other services and had about $39.3 billion in revenue in 2016. Her duties as general counsel since 2008, have included SEC disclosures, human resources, mergers, intellectual property, litigation, environmental compliance, government relations and security.
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’s tenure has been marked by a number of high-profile legal battles, including a global patent war with Samsung, and fights with the U.S. government over encryption. As general counsel, much of his work involves identifying potential legal issues and coordinating a response with executives and outside lawfirms.
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.