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FTC accuses Qualcomm of anti-competitive monopoly tactics

By Mark Iandolo | Feb 2, 2017

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Jan. 17 that it has filed a complaint in federal court against Qualcomm Inc. for allegedly using anti-competitive tactics to keep its monopoly related to key semiconductor devices.


Qualcomm is the major supplier for baseband processors worldwide. These devices manage mobile product-based cellular communications. According to the FTC, Qualcomm bullied competitors by using its dominant position to impose anti-competitive supply and licensing terms on cell phone manufacturers.


Specific allegations against Qualcomm include claims Qualcomm maintains a “no license, no chips” policy whereby it only sells to manufacturers that agree to its preferred license terms, refuses to license standard-essential patents to competitors, and that it extracted exclusivity from Apple by negotiating a reduced patent royalties agreement.


The FTC seeks a court order to ban Qualcomm’s business methods; the FTC says the methods are a violation of the FTC Act.


The FTC voted 2-1 to file the complaint. Commissioner Maureen K. Olhausen dissented. A public version of the complaint, as well as a sealed one, were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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U.S. Federal Trade Commission