A Brief Overview of Qualcomm v. Korea Fair Trade Commission

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Yoonhee Kim, Hui Jin Yang, Mar 16, 2015

The KFTC’s enforcement action against Qualcomm should create little surprise. All the more so, because Korea was the first country that successfully commercialized Qualcomm’s CDMA technology in the 1990s, leading to Qualcomm’s dominant position in the IT sector. Unable to compete in the Korean market despite the capability to produce CDMA chips, Texas Instrument and Broadcom petitioned the KFTC in 2006 to investigate Qualcomm’s licensing practices. The KFTC’s investigation was concluded in 2009 with the finding that Qualcomm had abused its dominant position in the CDMA markets. On appeal, the Seoul High Court in 2013 affirmed the KFTC’s determinations and remedial orders for the most part. The case is currently pending before the Korea Supreme Court.

This paper walks through the KFTC’s enforcement action against Qualcomm and reviews why the KFTC and the court concluded that Qualcomm violated the MRFTA by abusing its dominant position in the CDMA markets, focusing on how they interpreted Qualcomm’s FRAND commitments. Part II looks into the KFTC’s findings of fact and conclusions of law in the administrative proceeding. Part III examines the Seoul High Court’s reasoning that the KFTC’s action was justified.

 

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