In general, Qualcomm has had the best and worst of things over the last couple of years. While their current mobile flagship processor, the Snapdragon 820 is the talk of the town, its predecessor, the Snapdragon 810, although also the talk of the town, was for very different reasons. Throw into the mix the antitrust issues with Qualcomm and China and then more recently, antitrust issues with the EU and it has been quite a turbulent time for Qualcomm. Speaking of which, details are now emerging from a UK lawsuit against Qualcomm which notes that NVIDIA are asking Qualcomm to hand over compensation for what is claimed to be the reason behind the closure of its mobile broadband chip business.
Back in 2011, NVIDIA acquired the British semiconductor company, Icera, with a view to incorporating cellular modems in their chips. However, by May of 2015, it was reported that NVIDIA had given up on their mobile chip ambitions and were selling the Icera business they had only purchased four years earlier. According to the latest details, Qualcomm’s “unlawful abuse of dominance” resulted in what NVIDIA claims caused them to close down their mobile chip ambitions. As the court papers reveal, resulting from this ‘dominant abuse’ factors arose included delays to customer orders, lesser demand and previously agreed contracts not being fulfilled. In short, a monopoly of the industry and exertion of power by Qualcomm which made it increasingly hard for NVIDIA to function as a competitor.
The details come as part of a wider investigation by the EU authorities into the general sales tactics of Qualcomm with a specific focus on how those tactics were allegedly detrimental to other mobile chip-focused companies and businesses, like NVIDIA at the time. While the details are limited and while neither company has commented on the matter publicly, it is being reported that NVIDIA are looking to the judge to deem Qualcomm’s actions on the matter as an ‘abuse of dominance’ and one which Qualcomm gained from, financially. Hence the asking for the compensation to account for the monies made by Qualcomm, the losses incurred by NVIDIA including the acquisition of Icera.