US: FTC wants Qualcomm’s SEP licences available on FRAND terms

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pressed ahead with its challenge of Qualcomm’s licensing practices on Thursday, August 30, asking a California federal court to find that the company is required to license its standard essential patents (SEPs) to rival chipmakers.

The FTC filed its motion for partial summary judgment at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, on August 30. Qualcomm’s competition dispute with the FTC is due to be heard at trial in January 2019.

However, four months before the trial is due to commence, the FTC has asked the court for partial summary judgment that, under the fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing obligations Qualcomm committed to when it participated in setting wireless standards, Qualcomm must license its SEPs to rival chip makers.

The Commission’s lawsuit, submitted in January last year, alleges that Qualcomm had unlawfully maintained a monopoly in the market for baseband processors.

The motion filed by the FTC last week emphasised Qualcomm’s contractual commitments to make SEP licences available on FRAND terms, including to those entities which are considered competitors.

Foss Patents, a patent blog, said the motion is “legally extremely simple, yet has the potential for truly transformative impact on the marketplace.”

It explained that, if Judge Koh grants the motion, companies such as Samsung and Intel are likely to ask Qualcomm for a licence to its wireless SEPs on FRAND terms.

Qualcomm would then receive royalties representing a FRAND percentage of chip prices, rather than that of an entire mobile device, and prices for competitors and device makers would be reduced, according to Foss Patents.

Full Content: WIPR

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