A US JUDGE has quashed Qualcomm's bid to throw out an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
So says the Wall Street Journal (paywalled), which reports that a US federal judge this week ruled against Qualcomm's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
The lawsuit in question alleges that the chipmaker used anticompetitive practices in an attempt to squeeze rivals out of the market. Specifically, the FTC claims that Qualcomm abused its dominance in baseband processors by imposing anticompetitive supply and licensing terms on smartphone manufacturers, who wouldn't have access to the technology if they didn't agree to the firm's demands.
"'No license, no chips' is a condition that other suppliers of semiconductor devices do not impose," the FTC said back in January, "The risk of losing access to Qualcomm baseband processors is too great for a cell phone manufacturer to bear because it would preclude the manufacturer from selling phones for use on important cellular networks."
According to the FTC, Qualcomm also made exclusive deals with Apple that exclude competitors and harm competition, so that it could supply the baseband chips for all iPhones from 2011 to 2016.
One accusation claims that Qualcomm in 2007 it got Apple to agree not to use Intel-backed WiMax, the original 4G system used on the Sprint network in the US.
"In all, Qualcomm's 2011 and 2013 agreements with Apple provided for billions of dollars in conditional rebates from Qualcomm to Apple," according to the complaint.
"Under these agreements, Qualcomm provided Apple large lump sum payments that constituted partial relief from Qualcomm royalties. Qualcomm conditioned this relief on Apple"s exclusive use of Qualcomm baseband processors in new iPhone and iPad models.
Commenting on this latest development, Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm's general counsel, said that the firm could continue to fight the FTC suit.
"We look forward to further proceedings in which we will be able to develop a more accurate factual record and the FTC will have the burden to prove its claims which we continue to believe are without merit," he said. µ
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