Qualcomm has been charged with anti-competitive tactics by the FTC today after a brief report that the FTC was investigating the U.S.-based semiconductor company over the issue. According to the FTC’s filed complaint, Qualcomm has allegedly used its dominance in the industry to weaken the competition of other semiconductor companies. The FTC also alleges that Qualcomm has used their position as a dominating supplier of specific processors to force device manufacturers to agree to unfair licensing terms, as well as paying royalties which include things like a tax imposed on manufacturers if they use a baseband processor that is produced by a competitor of Qualcomm.
While the Federal Trade Commission is now suing Qualcomm over these particular measures, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Qualcomm has actually lost the suit. The FTC’s complaint has just been filed which means there is a long road ahead of Qualcomm and the FTC over the issue. It’s also not the first time Qualcomm has been locked in court over this matter as they spent months battling the Korea Federal Trade Commission over anti-competitive business practices, to which they were fined a total of $854 Million back in December of 2016. Qualcomm is also reportedly now fighting against that fine and seeks to have it dismissed and the decision overturned.
Considering this, it may not bode well for Qualcomm in their case against the FTC as they have already been fined once for what is more or less the same issue. If they are found guilty of the claims that the FTC is suing them for here in the U.S., and a fine is imposed, it would be the third fine altogether that Qualcomm has received as they were also given a fine from China that amounted to $954 Million. As part of the unfair licensing terms the FTC claims that Qualcomm has allegedly pushed Apple into exclusively using its baseband processors in exchange for decreasing their licensing costs. The complaint also alleges that Qualcomm will not license their standard-essential patents to any of their competitors in the semi-conductor industry. Since the complaint has just been filed there is no detail on when a case might move forward.