Thursday, 24 May, 2018

European Union fines Qualcomm for abuse of market dominance

The fine is meant to be a deterrent on any further anti-competition abuses The fine is meant to be a deterrent on any further anti-competition abuses
| 26 January, 2018, 03:02

Baseband chipsets enable mobile devices - like iPhones and iPads - to connect to cellular networks, facilitating the transmission of voice and data.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has announced that Qualcomm Inc. paid billions of dollars to Apple so that the latter won't purchase chips from the competitors of the former.

"Qualcomm prevented rivals from competing in the market by making significant payments to a key customer on condition it would not buy from rivals", Vestager said in a statement.

Vestager told reporters in the press conference that Apple was extremely thinking of moving from Qualcomm to Intel chips that could create a big difference for Intel at that time.

It said the illicit agreement made clear Qualcomm would cease the payments to Apple if it launched a device with a chipset supplied by a rival.

The investigation by the Competition Commission focused on Qualcomm's relationship with Apple during the period, and found that the firm had effectively locked out other challengers from the market, denying consumers both choice and innovation.

Under EU rules, it isn't illegal for a company to dominate a market; but the way Qualcomm did so was found to be in breach of regulations.


"We have a strong case for judicial review and we will immediately commence that process", Rosenberg added.

The commission has also ruled against Intel and is now investigating other cases against both Google and Qualcomm. Even though Apple has started fitting its iPhones with Intel chips, the situation is far from comforting for Intel.

Qualcomm intends to appeal the sanctions, which it may want to do quickly because the European Union is already eyeing the possibility of issuing a second fine against the company for selling modems to Nvidia at below cost from 2009 to 2011 in order to exclude competitors.

Qualcomm said it would appeal the fine.

Qualcomm was slapped with a €997 million ($1.2 billion) fine by the EU. "In the end Apple decided not to make the change", Vestager said.

It also says Broadcom's claim it can deliver immediate cash to Qualcomm stockholders is "completely false".

Ironically enough, this is the type of deal Intel has also been caught doing with Dell and other manufacturers many years ago, which was one of the reasons why the European Commission fined Intel over a billion euro back in 2009. Apple sued the chip maker for approximately $1 billion in patent royalty rebates not shared by Qualcomm.

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