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U.S. trade commission sues Qualcomm for anti-competitive policies

By Liu Hongzuo - on 18 Jan 2017, 12:52pm

U.S. trade commission sues Qualcomm for anti-competitive policies

Earlier today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced that they will be filing a complaint in their federal district court against Qualcomm. The semiconductor and telecommunications giant has been accused of anti-competitive business tactics that inhibits fair competition in the realm of mobile phone processors.

The main complaint, according to the complaint filing by the FTC, was that Qualcomm practiced a ‘no license, no chip’ policy – if a customer (a smartphone maker) does not agree with Qualcomm’s licensing “tax” for their patents, Qualcomm will withhold selling their baseband processors to customers.

Other points of contention raised in the complaint filing also included how Qualcomm allegedly refused to sell said patent licenses to Qualcomm’s competitors, which is a violation of FRAND standards that Qualcomm was supposed to adhere to.

The filing also alleged that Qualcomm offered lower royalty fees to Apple, should Apple use their baseband processors exclusively from 2011 to 2016, according to page 3 of the complaint filing.

Here is Qualcomm’s reply, with the full statement linked here.

“In particular, Qualcomm has never withheld or threatened to withhold chip supply in order to obtain agreement to unfair or unreasonable licensing terms. The FTC’s allegation to the contrary -- the central thesis of the complaint -- is wrong.”

The complaint filing by FTC came hot on the heels of Qualcomm’s US$854 million fine by South Korea for violating competition laws. Back in early 2015, Qualcomm also paid US$975 million to China, resolving an antitrust dispute.

Source: Ars Technica, Engadget, FTC (1), (2)

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