The Free Trade Commission (FTC) of Taiwan has handed down a $773 million judgment against Qualcomm over what the Island-nation’s high court declared as systematic anti-trust violations, which have allegedly been taking place over the last seven years, according to a Bloomberg report.
It’s during that period of time, court documents state, Qualcomm collected an estimated $13.2 billion from local, Taiwanese companies.
“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 wrote, while adding that the chip-maker “abused its advantage in mobile communication standards, refused to license necessary patents.”
In addition to its whopping, multi-million dollar judgment, Taiwan’s FTC ruled that Qualcomm must also remove any terms — including names, numbers, shipping quantities and/or pricing details — from its products that are pertinent to previous licensing agreements. And of course, the greatest penalty of all is that this ruling could ultimately have major implications for Qualcomm’s myriad of ongoing legal battles with Apple.
Apple vs. Qualcomm
Of course, if you’ve been following the news this year, you’ll likely know this is but the latest in a long and complicated saga of Qualcomm’s courtroom drama — and while this case, in particular, appears to relate more so to the company’s overall business practices, it’s certainly worth noting that Apple has played a major role in bringing Qualcomm to its knees.
The whole fiasco began earlier this year when Apple, backed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, filed an injunction against Qualcomm for what the iPhone-maker alleged were unfair and monopolistic practices, claiming that the modem-maker withheld almost $1 billion in rebates from its partners because of an ongoing South Korean anti-trust investigation.
Alleging that the San Diego, Calif.-based chip-maker uses its “monopoly power” to leverage control over the market, Apple then accused Qualcomm of trying to undermine fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) patent commitments in order to maximize the royalties its customers owed for using Qualcomm-built chips.
Qualcomm and Apple each followed up with their own array of claims and damning accusations, including subsequent anti-trust lawsuits filed in Beijing, China, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. And, without relent, the incessant cat-and-mouse game has been unfolding ever since.
For its part, Qualcomm has adamantly denied all of Apple’s accusations — chalking their disagreement up to a matter of Cupertino merely colluding with its other contract-based suppliers to put pressure on it. However the chip-maker also claims in its counter-arguments that Apple is in breach of contract since the company hasn’t been paying its fees, while encouraging its closest partners to follow suit.
We’ll just have to sit tight and see how this massive fine affects the other lawsuits currently going on, but on the surface, it would appear from this latest development that Qualcomm might be nearing its tipping-point.