A federal judge has ruled that Qualcomm cannot use Apple moving to Intel modem as an evidence against allegations of the company’s monopolistic business practices.
The FTC has filed a lawsuit in early 2017 against Qualcomm in the U.S. District Court alleging anticompetitive business practices and patent licensing norms for its LTE basebands. FTC is still in talks with Qualcomm about settling the matter out of the court, though a Qualcomm lawyer said there was “no news” about the status of the discussions.
In the case, Qualcomm has used the fact that Apple has completely stopped using its modem and switched entirely to Intel as evidence that its business practices are not unfair. It also highlighted how it has reduced the licensing fees for its 5G modem and that several OEMs have already signed deals with it. It also argued that the new market conditions would show that it does not have a monopoly over LTE modem. However, its request was rejected by Judge Lucy Koh.
“Qualcomm does not argue that any post-discovery evidence shows a change in Qualcomm’s own business conduct. All of the proposed evidence relates to alleged shifts in Qualcomm’s market power,” Koh wrote in her decision.
An FTC win could spell trouble for Qualcomm as it could force the company to change its licensing behavior and fees and face heavy fines along with it. In the case, the court has already ruled that Qualcomm must share key patent technologies with its competitors if requested by them.
Qualcomm had previously settled with the Taiwanese regulator out of the court in a similar case by agreeing to invest $700 million in the country. It is likely that the chipmaker will try to reach an out of court settlement with the FTC in this case as well.
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