CHIPMAKER Qualcomm has suffered a defeat in its antitrust battle against the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC filed the lawsuit back in 2017, alleging that the chipmaker used anticompetitive practices in an attempt to squeeze rivals out of the cellular modem market and to inflate the prices of its own components.
"'No license, no chips' is a condition that other suppliers of semiconductor devices do not impose," the FTC said at the time.
"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."
Though Qualcomm had argued that it had "never withheld or threatened to withhold chip supply in order to obtain agreement to unfair or unreasonable licensing terms," Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California this week found the firm guilty of violating the FTC's antitrust laws.
Qualcomm has been ordered to renegotiate existing licensing terms, and told that it cannot enter exclusivity supply agreements and must license standards-essential patents at fair and reasonable rates.
"Qualcomm must not condition the supply of modem chips on a customer's patent license status and Qualcomm must negotiate or renegotiate license terms with customers in good faith under conditions free from the threat of lack of access to or discriminatory provision of modem chip supply or associated technical support or access to software," Koh ruled.
Unsurprisingly, Qualcomm - fresh from settling its years-long legal battle with Apple - has said it plans to appeal the ruling.
"We strongly disagree with the judge's conclusions, her interpretation of the facts and her application of the law," said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm. µ
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