Qualcomm Rocked By $773 Million Antitrust Ruling In Taiwan, Plans Vigorous Appeal

Qualcomm has been hit with a hefty NT$23.4 billion (around $773 million in US currency) imposed by Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission over violations to Taiwanese competition law, and specifically over licensing fees on mobile phone processors and patents that it collected over the past 7 years. Naturally the semiconductor manufacturer disagrees with the agency's finding and subsequent fine, and plans to appeal the decision.

The fine is the most ever imposed by the Taiwanese regulator. In a released posted to the agency's website, Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission said Qualcomm abused its position in the mobile chip market by outright refusing to sell chips and license technologies to companies that do not agree with its positions.

Image Source: Wikipedia (Coolcaesar)

"Qualcomm holds big number of standard essential patents in CDMA, WCDMA and LTE segments and is the dominant provider of CDMA, WCDMA and LTE baseband chips," Taiwan's FTC said. "It abused its advantage in mobile communication standards, refused to license necessary patents."

The chip maker is said to have collected NT$400 billion (~$13.2 billion) in licensing fees from local clients during the 7 years this went on. Qualcomm takes issues with the numbers thrown out by the agency, along with the decision that it abused its position.

"Qualcomm disagrees with the decision summarized in the TFTC’s press release and intends to seek to stay any required behavioral measures and appeal the decision to the Taiwanese courts after receiving the TFTC’s formal decision, which is expected in the next several weeks. The fine bears no rational relationship to the amount of Qualcomm’s revenues or activities in Taiwan, and Qualcomm will appeal the amount of the fine and the method used to calculate it," Qualcomm said.

This is not the first time Qualcomm has been hit with a big fine. In 2015, a Chinese regulator imposed a $972 million fine to Qualcomm, followed by a $853 fine in South Korea last year. Qualcomm is also under investigation by the US FTC, which could potentially lead to another expensive fine.

Qualcomm is also battling other companies over pricing and patents, most notably Apple, one of its largest customers. Apple essentially accused Qualcomm of extortion, alleging that the company withheld $1 billion in back payments for cooperating with law enforcement agencies.

Thumbnail Image Source: Flickr (Kārlis Dambrāns)