Qualcomm Argues With FTC Over $910 Million Antitrust Fine

July 14, 2017 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

Qualcomm on Friday argued over a $910 million antitrust fine that the company was hit with in South Korea in late 2016, asking the country’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) to postpone the enforcement of its sanction until the company’s lawsuit against the order is processed, local media reports. During a public hearing at the 7th Administrative Division of the Seoul High Court, the San Diego, California-based chipmaker claimed that the Korean government will inflict “irreparable damage” to its operations if it proceeds with enforcing the correction order momentarily, claiming that such a scenario must be avoided as its lawsuit may change the legality of the measure.

The company pleaded for the order to be delayed “for a limited period of time,” with its representatives not giving a more detailed estimate as to when they expect their lawsuit to be processed. Qualcomm originally started the litigation in late February, filing a lawsuit seeking to cancel the order with the Seoul High Court. The sanction itself was issued after the FTC decided that Qualcomm was abusing its dominance in the mobile modem market and bullied a number of companies into paying unfair licensing fees for what it deems are essential patents. Korea’s competition watchdog specifically mentioned Samsung Electronics and Apple as being affected by Qualcomm’s patent licensing practices that it concluded were monopolistic and must be corrected.

The competent court has yet to make a ruling on Qualcomm’s plea but is expected to do so shortly. The original fine that the chipmaker is now appealing amounted to $854 million last year but due to currency fluctuations, 1.03 billion won now translates to around $910 million. That figure marks the largest antitrust penalty ever issued in the history of the Far Eastern country, though it remains to be seen whether Qualcomm is required to pay it in the end. The company has been dealing with accusations of anti-competitive practices on numerous fronts in recent years and is even currently involved in a legal battle with the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), also due to its supposedly unfair licensing fees. An update on Qualcomm’s efforts to resolve its disputes with various antitrust authorities should follow later this year.