17 May 2017
California
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Intel and Samsung rally against Qualcomm


Intel and Samsung have rallied against Qualcomm as part of its ongoing litigation with the US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC).

In its brief filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Intel said that Qualcomm has maintained “an interlocking web of abusive patent and commercial practices that subverts competition”.

The FTC instituted its complaint in January, prompting further legal actions against Qualcomm, including a $1 billion lawsuit from Apple.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Qualcomm acted in bad faith during standard-essential patent licensing negotiations to “maintain its monopoly in the supply of a key semiconductor device used in cell phones and other consumer products”.

Intel went on to say in its brief: “These practices have coerced mobile phone manufacturers into purchasing the chipsets they need from Qualcomm and Qualcomm alone. The FTC’s detailed complaint documents the Qualcomm practices that have created that coercive business climate and stymied competition.”

It added: “Qualcomm’s behaviour has inflicted and continues to inflict precisely the harms that the anti-trust laws seek to protect against: harm to the competitive process, to consumer welfare, and to innovation and progress.”

Intel said these allegations reflect the “reality that Intel has experienced in the marketplace”, and that further proceedings will shed light on Qualcomm’s abusive practices.

Samsung agreed, arguing that Qualcomm’s fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory commitments led organisations to adopt mobile standards that rely on Qualcomm’s standard-essential patents, foregoing competing standards.

But Qualcomm did not uphold its end of the bargain and, despite declaring thousands of standard-essential patents, it allegedly refused to license them to rival chip makers.

“Because Qualcomm does not license to competitors, handset manufacturers have no choice but to accept Qualcomm’s onerous terms. In short, Qualcomm directly excludes competitors and harms competition,” said Samsung.

Qualcomm has yet to respond to the briefs, but the semiconductor company did file a lawsuit against four of Apple's manufacturers today (17 May).

The semiconductor company said that the manufacturers had failed to honour their licence agreements, and accused them of breach contract and refusing to pay royalties.

Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel at Qualcomm, accused Apple of undermining its licence agreements.

Rosenberg said: “As Apple continues to collect billions of dollars from consumer sales of its Qualcomm-enabled products, it is using its market power as the wealthiest company in the world to try to coerce unfair and unreasonable license terms from Qualcomm in its global attack on the company.”

“Our licence agreements with Apple’s manufacturers remain valid and enforceable. The manufacturers must continue to live up to their obligations under these agreements and Apple should immediately cease its tortious interference.”

Apple sued Qualcomm for nearly $1 billion in January after the FTC filed its lawsuit against the company.

Qualcomm has “unfairly insisted on charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with”, according to Apple.

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