Qualcomm has reportedly been ordered to pay $773 million (NT$23.4 billion) in fines by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission for having allegedly violated the country’s antitrust laws with its pricing for its mobile device chips and patent licenses, according to a new report by Bloomberg. The Taiwanese regulator claimed that the American multinational semiconductor and telecommunications giant has been collecting large sums of money in licensing fees from Taiwanese local tech firms for more than seven years.
Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission further claimed that local companies in Taiwan had bought baseband chips from Qualcomm worth about $30 billion, adding that the company refused to provide those chips to customers who disagreed with the terms and conditions of the sale. This led to Qualcomm’s alleged monopolistic practices involving the mobile phone standards in the country, where it owns patents in CDMA, WCDMA and LTE categories. Additionally, the antitrust regulators in Taiwan concluded that Qualcomm took unfair advantage of its position as a provider of mobile communication standards by declining several requests to license its patents. The chipmaker also recently faced other antitrust challenges in other countries, including in the United States, where the U.S. Federal Trade Commission charged the company earlier this year with anti-competitive practices with respect to its semiconductor business. The FTC accused the San Diego, California-based company of abusing its market position as a big supplier of mobile processors to coerce original equipment manufacturers to agree to its terms and conditions for licensing its patents and forcing them to pay royalties to the chipmaker.
In December of last year, Qualcomm was also fined $854 million for related antitrust violations in South Korea. The country’s Fair Trade Commission claimed that the American tech giant took advantage of its dominant position in the mobile processor market to force phone companies to pay excessively large sums of patent fees when they acquire Qualcomm-branded chips. The penalty also covered other allegedly anti-competitive practices by the company, such as restricting its rivals including Samsung and MediaTek from acquiring some of its modem chip patents. In regards to the latest antitrust fine though, Qualcomm vows to appeal the Taiwanese’s watchdog’s decision, as well as the amount of the fine.