Antitrust Ruling Against Qualcomm is Thrown Out on Appeal

Posted on August 11, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile with 4 Comments

A 2019 antitrust ruling against mobile chipmaking giant Qualcomm has been thrown out by a U.S. appeals court. The ruling is a major setback for the Federal Trade Commission, which had accused the hardware maker of abusing its market power with excessive licensing costs.

“Qualcomm is under no antitrust duty to license rival chip suppliers,” the appeals court ruling notes.

In May 2019, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled that Qualcomm’s licensing fees were “unreasonably high” and she ordered the firm to renegotiate its agreements with phone makers and without threatening to cut off access to Qualcomm’s technology. As part of the ruling, the FTC was to have monitored Qualcomm’s business practices for 7 years.

Qualcomm appealed the ruling a week later, citing “serious legal questions” and that it had invested over $57 billion, or about 20 percent of its annual revenues each year, in the technologies it licenses to others.

“Qualcomm is the developer and enabler of foundational technologies for the wireless industry,” the firm noted at the time. “Our inclusive, flexible licensing and mobile technology transfer program ensures rapid technology advancement and competition across the ecosystem. Through standards development and our broad licensing program, we make our breakthroughs available to licensees who use them to develop products.”

In an interesting development, the U.S. Department of Justice backed Qualcomm’s appeal, arguing that the original ruling could undermine U.S. leadership 5G wireless networks and other emerging technologies.

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Comments (4)

4 responses to “Antitrust Ruling Against Qualcomm is Thrown Out on Appeal”

  1. Avatar

    Vladimir Carli

    This doesn’t look very good. Isn’t it in a way similar to what Apple does with the Apple store?

  2. Avatar

    toukale

    This case is tainted by the politics of the current environment. The last thing the current administration wants to do is weaken Qualcomm. Was surprised when the FTC won, the FTC even argued against its own case about the level of punishment. That should tell you everything you need to know about this case.

  3. Avatar

    johnh3

    Some interesting Qualcomm news, they and Google will invest in HMD Global (Nokia)

    Maybe they expect a trade war USA vs China?


    I wonder if more brands than Huawei will be blacklisted, like OnePlus. So Nokia might be a plan B, if they cant sell processors to Chinese phone brands?


  4. Avatar

    Usman

    In reply to Hawaiianteg:

    ' the U.S. Department of Justice backed Qualcomm’s appeal, arguing that the original ruling could undermine U.S. leadership 5G wireless networks and other emerging technologies.'


    Seems to be current administration meddling and doing favours for US tech companies due to China and 5G fears

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