Qualcomm is preventing Samsung from selling its Exynos chips to other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said earlier this week, as reported by The Korea Economic Daily. The FTC made that claim while giving its verdict in a case pertaining to Qualcomm's abuse of market power, stating that the San Diego-based semiconductor manufacturer has been abusing the so-called "standard essential patent" license for years with the goal of preventing Samsung from selling its chipsets and modems to third parties. Despite the fact that Samsung's offerings are seemingly comparable to those of Qualcomm in terms of performance, the U.S. chipmaker has been abusing a licensing deal with Samsung for approximately 25 years in order to prevent it from competing, the FTC said. Both parties have yet to comment on the ruling.
The latest turn of events sheds some light on the fact that Samsung-made chipsets never powered a third-party device before 2015 and the Meizu Pro 5. Even today, third-party devices featuring an Exynos system-on-chip (SoC) are a rarity, but most industry watchers have so far been convinced that Samsung was simply reluctant to license its technology. It was previously believed that the Seoul-based consumer electronics manufacturer wasn't willing to license its Exynos chips to third-party OEMs due to the fact it was protecting its intellectual properties, but it seems that the company was actually prevented from doing so because of an old licensing deal with Qualcomm.
The FTC's ruling marks another legal issue for Qualcomm that has recently been clashing with antitrust regulators all over the world. The company was issued a historic $854 million fine in South Korea in late 2016 and a $975 million fine in China in early 2015, both due to market power abuse. The European Union also previously accused the San Diego-based company of abusing its dominant position in the market but has yet to issue any sanctions over the matter. Regardless of Samsung's troubles with Qualcomm, the South Korean tech giant continues to use the company's Snapdragon chipsets in its Galaxy devices made for the United States due to a variety of reasons. The U.S. variants of the upcoming Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus are also expected to be powered by the Snapdragon 835 SoC.