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European Commission ‘abandons $1 billion fine’ against Qualcomm

Written by Thu 1 Sep 2022

EU Antitrust

European anti-trust regulators have reportedly stopped their pursuit of a $1 billion fine against multinational semiconductor firm Qualcomm, according to Reuters. In June this year, Qualcomm won an appeal at Europe’s General Court over a $1 billion fine that European Union regulators sought due to payments the firm made to Apple to use Qualcomm chips.

Reuters report that regulators believe that overturning the appeal and reinstating the fine would prove to be too challenging. At the start of 2018, European regulators alleged that payments made from Qualcomm to Apple between 2011 and 2016 were sent to guarantee that Qualcomm cellular modems were used in Apple iPhone and iPad manufacturing.

Internal Qualcomm documents and communications showed that the firm did believe making these payments would stop Apple from opting for modems from Qualcomm rivals. Despite this evidence, the EU General Court found that ‘procedural irregularities’ impacted Qualcomm’s rights of defence and that the payments alone were not enough to show anti-competitive practices.

“The General Court finds that the conclusion that the payments at issue had actually reduced Apple’s incentives to switch to Qualcomm’s competitors to obtain supplies of LTE chipsets in respect of its requirements for certain iPad models to be launched in 2014 and 2015 is not sufficient to determine that they were anticompetitive for all of Apple’s requirements,” stated the judgement of the EU General Court in June 2022.

Apple also used Intel models in a number of products after the payments were made, starting with the iPhone 7 in 2016. This result is one of several where the European Commission has seen their decision being overturned, with the EU court overturning a $1.2 billion fine against Intel for similar anti-trust concerns in January this year.

Written by Thu 1 Sep 2022


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