South Korea: Qualcomm to appeal record antitrust fine

Qualcomm announced it would appeal a South Korean court decision on Wednesday, December 4, to uphold a record US$873 million fine against the US chip giant for unfair business practices related to patent licensing and modem chip sales, reported The New York Times

The ruling by the Seoul High Court is a setback for Qualcomm as it battles customers over royalties and antitrust violations around the world, including an ongoing case brought by the US Federal Trade Commission. 

Judge Noh Tae-ak rejected the company’s appeal against the penalty imposed by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) in 2016, saying Qualcomm had abused its dominant market position.

“The defendant exerted a significant influence over mobile phone manufacturers either through unfair relationships or making them depend on the defendant’s supplies of modem chipsets,” Noh said in his ruling.

The court also confirmed some remedies proposed by the KFTC, including an order for Qualcomm to stop discriminating against rivals who sought to use its essential mobile patent and develop competing modem chips to supply smartphone makers.

The court, however, dismissed the regulator’s claims that Qualcomm had disadvantaged smartphone makers by signing “comprehensive” licensing deals, opening the door for the company to continue taking a cut of the price of the phone as a license fee.

Full Content: New York Times

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