Many of you will know Qualcomm for their Snapdragon processors inside your smartphone or tablet, and while it's true they hold a large portion of the market when it comes to mobile processors, they hold many, many more patents outside of that business. Qualcomm is a big name when it comes to the wireless industry, and the company holds many essential patents when it comes to 4G and other wireless standards. As such, the company asks for licensing fees from other firms producing mobile processors like MediaTek and co. This is the focus of an antitrust investigation in China being carried out by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Now, it seems like the case will be settled lawfully and soon.
Earlier this month, Qualcomm President Derek Aberle and his team were involved in a seventh round of talks with the NDRC. Qualcomm is accused of overcharging competitors licensing fees and abusing its position in the market and its many patents relating to wireless standards. While the case is rumored to be settled soon, it could result in fines topping the $1 Billion mark as well as drastically reducing the amount of money Qualcomm can charge licensees for its patents and technology.
Qualcomm certainly isn't the only foreign firm to come under scrutiny from the NDRC and this practice of investigating non-Chinese firms has become a serious point of contention between China and the West. While it's important to foster competition, especially in a growing economy like China, but it does appear like the Chinese government is looking to severely reduce the advantage held by Western firms like Qualcomm. With talks between President Obama and China's Xi Jinping in November pushing the issue of licensing fees and patents, it's clear that this is a serious issue. Whether or not Qualcomm is just being made an example of, or more Western technology firms will face the same sort of treatment is unclear, but having the NDRC investigate other firms from outside of China does seem like a growing pattern.