The General Court based in Luxembourg has denied Qualcomm’s appeal for the suspension of a European Union decision to impose a daily fine of 580,000 euros or $665,000 on the chipmaker after the company failed to submit information requested by the EU’s antitrust regulators. The European Commission charged Qualcomm with violating antitrust rules in the region for allegedly using unfair methods to beat its rival Icera, therefore squashing competition. Icera is a British phone software maker acquired by NVIDIA in 2011 with the goal of integrating cellular modems into its chips. However, Icera’s operation was shut down in 2015 in what NVIDIA claimed to be the result of Qualcomm’s monopolistic business methods. The EU antitrust authorities then launched an investigation on the business practices of Qualcomm to determine whether or not the company complied with competition policies in Europe.
In its appeal to the General Court, Qualcomm described the EU antitrust authority's decision as requiring a lot of work and hefty financial costs which are expected to reach more than 3 million euros. The demand also implicated over 50 employees at the company as well as 16 third-party advisers. In denying the company’s appeal, Court President Marc Jaeger said Qualcomm lacks any claim that the penalty would tremendously affect its financial viability and market share, nor did the company explain why it would not be possible to seek compensation for the financial costs from the penalty if it submits the required information to EU competition authorities.
The General Court’s decision to uphold the regulators’ penalty against Qualcomm comes as a major blow to the company amid a salvo of antitrust complaints the company is facing in other regions besides Europe. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has charged Qualcomm with employing anti-competitive practices in January of this year for allegedly taking an unfair advantage of its market dominance to force device manufacturers to accept unfair licensing terms. Earlier than that, the chipmaker faced an $854 million fine in South Korea for allegedly violating a number of antitrust rules after the company reportedly coerced phone makers to pay for a variety of patents when they acquire Qualcomm’s chips. More details about Qualcomm’s antitrust battle in Europe are likely to follow over the coming months.