US judge rules that Qualcomm violated antitrust laws and 'strangled competition'

Qualcomm logo on smartphone

A US federal judge has ruled that Qualcomm broke antitrust laws, illegally suppressing competition and abusing its dominant position for financial gain.

US District Judge Lucy Koh wrote that "Qualcomm's licensing practices have strangled competition", criticizing the company for threatening to cut off supplies and extracting excessive licensing fees. She ordered the company to renegotiate more reasonable deals, and said that it should be monitored for seven years to ensure compliance. The chip maker plans to appeal.

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Judge Koh said that Qualcomm eliminated its competition by charging excessive royalties for access to its patents. The company was also criticized for netting billions of dollars for charging royalties on a percentage of the price of a smartphone, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Koh said that "with practices that result in exclusivity and eliminate opportunities to compete for OEM business, Qualcomm undermines rivals in every facet". She also said that not only had the company acted in an anticompetitive way, it did so knowingly and continued to do so despite international investigations:

This evidence of Qualcomm's intent confirms the court's conclusion that Qualcomm's practices cause anticompetitive harm because no monopolist monopolizes unconscious of what he is doing.

Qualcomm's general counsel said: "We strongly disagree with the judge’s conclusions, her interpretation of the facts and her application of the law".

The company has asked for the ruling to be put on hold while it appeals.

Image credit: Piotr Swat / Shutterstock

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