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Qualcomm repudiates antitrust allegations from EC

Posted: 10 Dec 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Qualcomm  Icera Semiconductor  Nvidia  smartphone  antitrust 

Qualcomm has responded to the two Statements of Objections sent by the European Commission (EC) alleging that it has made illegal exclusivity payments and pursued predatory pricing of its chipsets. The phone chip company stated that it will prove those accusations to be without merit.

Issuing a statement of objections is a formal step in EC investigations into suspected violations of European Union antitrust rules. The latest move follows on from the announcement of two investigations in July 2015.

It signals that the EC has come to preliminary conclusion that Qualcomm may have illegally paid a major customer for using its chipsets exclusively and sold chipsets below cost with the aim of forcing its competitor Icera Semiconductor out of the market. Icera has since been acquired by Nvidia.

The first statement of objections said Qualcomm has since 2011 paid significant amounts to a major smartphone and tablet computer company on condition that it exclusively uses Qualcomm baseband chipsets in its smartphones and tablets. The company was not named in an EC press release but the exclusivity contract is still in force.

Qualcomm has three months to respond with regard to the exclusivity payment and four months with regard to the allegation of predatory pricing.

"Qualcomm has been cooperating with the commission since the outset of these matters, and now that we've received the Statements of Objections, we welcome the chance to formally respond," said Qualcomm general counsel and EVP, Don Rosenberg. "We look forward to demonstrating that competition in the sale of wireless chips has been and remains strong and dynamic, and that Qualcomm's sales practices have always complied with European competition law."

If the charges are upheld, the EC could levy fines of up to a tenth of Qualcomm's annual sales for each offence.

- Peter Clarke
  EE Times Europe

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