Competition authorities around the world have repeatedly found Qualcomm’s licensing practices unlawful, yet Qualcomm continues to try to achieve the same results through a campaign of patent lawsuits. These lawsuits have been largely unsuccessful, and at best would reduce innovation and raise prices.
Qualcomm’s goal is not to vindicate its intellectual property rights, but rather to drive competition out of the market for premium modem chips, and to defend a business model that ultimately harms consumers. As we’ve noted before, in the last several years, Qualcomm has been fined nearly a billion dollars in China, $850 million in Korea, $1.2 billion by the European Commission and $773 million in Taiwan (later reduced in a settlement) for anti-competitive practices.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission continues to pursue claims against Qualcomm in federal court for alleged violation of U.S. antitrust law. Just last month, the Northern California federal district court rejected Qualcomm’s arguments that it has a legal basis for its refusal to license its standards-essential patents to modem chip competitors. Judge Lucy Koh rejected Qualcomm’s strained arguments that its conduct has a basis in the rules of its standards bodies participation. She concluded that, “Qualcomm never attempts to explain how discrimination against modem chip suppliers is consistent with the stated purposes of the IPR policies.”
Opening arguments in the Federal Trade Commission case will begin Jan. 4. We encourage everyone interested in the future of mobile communications to pay attention to this case.
Qualcomm’s litigation campaign notwithstanding, we hope that these actions by global competition authorities help preserve competition in the premium modem chip market, to the benefit of equipment makers and consumers everywhere. Competition will also encourage continued innovation in 5G wireless technology, which will be essential to connected cars, connected health, smarter industry and other applications critical to our future economy.
The world benefits from competition in the wireless technology market. We hope that it flourishes.
Steven R. Rodgers is executive vice president and general counsel of Intel Corporation.