Court sides with FTC over Qualcomm antitrust violations

US district judge Lucy Koh rules that the company has engaged in anti-competitive behavior by charging unreasonably high royalties for patents


A federal judge has sided with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that Qualcomm engaged in anti-competitive behavior when marketing its wireless chips.

The FTC initially sued the chipmaker in 2017 and in January the two sides presented their opening arguments in a trial in San Jose.

The decision, which was made by US district judge Lucy Koh, argued that the company charged unreasonably high royalties for its patents thereby eliminating its cell phone chip competitors. Koh demanded that Qualcomm renegotiate licensing agreements with customers, license its patents to rival chip makers at a more reasonable rate and agree to be monitored for the next seven years. The ruling also prevents Qualcomm from signing exclusive supply agreements with smartphone makers like Apple.

"We strongly disagree with the judge's conclusions, her interpretation of the facts and her application of the law," rebuffed Don Rosenberg, executive vice-president and general counsel of Qualcomm. The company added that it would immediately be seeking a stay of the court's judgment in addition to an expedited appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit.

Last month, Qualcomm had more success after its longstanding legal battle with Apple over technology patents ended with the two companies agreeing to dismiss all litigation meaning that Qualcomm began supplying chips for iPhones once more. The agreement included a reported $4.5bn payout to the chipmaker.

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