Qualcomm has a new battle to fight after facing anti-competitive charges. The mobile chipset giant has been now charged by the US government agency for anti-competitive practices. The US Federal Trade Commission claims that Qualcomm indulged in forcing smartphone brands and other companies to agree to its license terms in order to gain access to its baseband processor products. Such practices are not followed by Qualcomm’s competitors.
In short, Qualcomm demanded a higher royalty fee from smartphone brands if they wanted to use baseband products from its competing brands. The FTC complaint added that Qualcomm didn’t offer its standard essential patents to competing baseband companies under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The US Federal Trade Commission also mentioned that Qualcomm bribed Apple for not making a WiMax-enabled smartphone from 2011 to 2016.
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.
In a statement, Qualcomm said, “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 company also said that “the intellectual-property-rights policies of the cellular standards organizations do not require licensing at the component level, and the FTC does not have the authority to rewrite industry policy. That is for the industry, not a regulator, to decide.”
Qualcomm is already facing charges from other brands for anti-competitive practices. The company was also hit with an $854 million fine from the South Korean government for charging royalties to smartphone companies for several unnecessary patents. Qualcomm said that it will appeal against the fine in court. Several big-name brands, including Google and Microsoft, have been facing such charges against anti-competitive practices, and it’s not a new thing in the industry.