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European commission gives up trying to fine Qualcomm

by on30 August 2022

Will not appeal a June court monopoly ruling

The European Commission has given up trying to fine Qualcomm for what it thought were "anti-competitive payments" to Apple.

Antitrust watchdogs have indicated that they will not appeal a June court ruling squashing a nearly $1 billion fine against the US system-on-chip designer, which was accused of breaking Europe's competition laws.

Regulators have determined it would be too difficult to convince Europe’s top court to change its mind on the earlier decision to cancel the fine.

In June, EU General Court ruled against a $1.04 billion (€997 million) antitrust fine leveled against Qualcomm, asserting Europe's watchdogs had made “a number of procedural irregularities which affected Qualcomm's rights of defense and invalidate the commission's analysis of the company's doings.

In early 2018, regulators claimed that Qualcomm paid lots of cash to Apple between 2011 and 2016 to ensure the exclusive use of Qualcomm cellular modems in Apple's iPhone and iPad products. Internal documents confirmed that Qualcomm believed the payments would prevent Apple from switching to rival modems, including those made by Intel at the time.

The EU General Court found that the payments made by Qualcomm to Apple were insufficient to determine whether they were anti-competitive.

“The commission did not provide an analysis which makes it possible to support the findings that the payments concerned had actually reduced Apple's incentives to switch to Qualcomm's competitors,” the decision read.

In fact, Apple end up deploying Intel modems in several of its products beginning with the release of the iPhone 7 in late 2016. In 2019, Apple acquired Intel’s modem business in a deal valued at $1 billion. Despite the acquisition, Apple continues to rely on Qualcomm as its primary source of modems.


Last modified on 30 August 2022
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