Qualcomm Facing Off With FTC in Antitrust Trial That Kicks Off Today

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    With the intense ongoing legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple, it's easy to forget that Qualcomm is also facing an FTC antitrust lawsuit for using anticompetitive tactics to remain the main supplier for baseband processors for smartphones.

    The FTC hasn't forgotten, though, and FTC lawyers are in a Northern California courtroom before well-known judge Lucy Koh, who also presided over the Apple-Samsung legal fight.


    Lawyers for Qualcomm, the FTC, Apple, and other manufacturers have gathered as the trial commences, with the FTC set to argue that Qualcomm refused to provide chips to OEMs without a patent license, refused to license its technology to rivals, and set exclusive deals with Apple.

    Manufacturers like Huawei and Lenovo will testify that Qualcomm threatened to disrupt their chip supply during licensing negotiations, forcing them into signing deals.

    The FTC first filed a complaint against Qualcomm in January 2017, which was actually the catalyst for Apple's own lawsuit against the company just a few weeks later.

    In that complaint, the FTC said that Qualcomm uses its position and its portfolio of patents to impose anticompetitive supply and licensing terms on cell phone manufacturers, impacting its competitors.

    Part of the complaint addressed a deal with Apple in which Qualcomm required Apple to exclusively use its modems from 2011 to 2016 in exchange for lower patent royalties. Qualcomm is also accused of refusing to license its standard-essential (FRAND) patents to competing suppliers and implementing a no license, no chips policy to drive up royalty payments beyond what's fair.

    Qualcomm attempted to get the FTC's lawsuit against it dismissed, but in June, Judge Koh ruled that the lawsuit would proceed on the basis that the FTC adequately demonstrated that anticompetitive tactics were being used by Qualcomm.

    In its defense, Qualcomm has claimed the FTC is using a "flawed legal theory" and has misconceptions about the mobile technology industry. "We look forward to defending our business in federal court, where we are confident we will prevail on the merits," Qualcomm said in a statement in January 2017.

    As the FTC trial begins, Apple and Qualcomm's legal battle has also been escalating. As of today, Apple has pulled the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8 in Germany after Qualcomm won a preliminary injunction in the country.

    Qualcomm also won an import ban on older iPhone models in China, which Apple sidestepped through a software update that addressed functionality said to infringe on Qualcomm patents.

    Article Link: Qualcomm Facing Off With FTC in Antitrust Trial That Kicks Off Today
  2. Baymowe335 macrumors 601

    Oct 6, 2017
  3. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
  4. MarkB786 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2016
    Rocky Mountains, USA
  5. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Why, read the article, "using anticompetitive tactics"
  6. Kanyay Suspended


    Dec 14, 2018
    Mar-a-Lago, Russia
  7. ChrisNH macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2008
    southern New Hampshire
    "We look forward to defending our business in federal court..." is a dog-whistle for, "We're doomed."
  8. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    Qualcomm, this isn't a good time for that right now. Go away.
  9. MarkB786 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2016
    Rocky Mountains, USA
    Well, they have the technology and patents. So why can they not wield that power? Unless they stole technology, it's their technology to control. If Apple et. al don't want to be held hostage, get creative and find another solution. I admit that I am not on top of all of the details, but I suspect that Apple and others may apply the same control over their technology and patents.
  10. lenard macrumors 6502

    Oct 10, 2007
    Raleigh NC
    They already loss, Apple does not need to order anything from them in the future.....
  11. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    If Apple using their Technology without paying for it is what you describe as not ordering anything from them in the future then you may be right. However. We all sit up and complain when China is accused of stealing Technology and rightly so. Well guess what Apple is using someone else IP and trying to get away without paying for it.
  12. jarman92 macrumors 6502

    Nov 13, 2014
    I love this: "Qualcomm has claimed the FTC ... has misconceptions about the mobile technology industry."

    I.e. "the FTC just doesn't understand we should be allowed to extort everyone to maximize our profits!"

    Great words to live by..."they have power so I guess everyone should just roll over and give up!" Just because Qualcomm has some patents doesn't mean they can extort the rest of the smartphone/tech industry; that's what FRAND is for.
  13. kemal macrumors 65816


    Dec 21, 2001
    It appears to me, at least, that the reporting on Apple issues in China and Germany are for the same reason: non-payment of royalties on base band technology. In China it was UI functionality.

    I hope all the scumbag companies get what they deserve. In court, of course.
  14. jarman92 macrumors 6502

    Nov 13, 2014
    Of course that's not what's happening. Apple has always paid Qualcomm for their tech, but they don't want to pay them twice: once for the chip and again for the tech inside the chip. Qualcomm's entire business model is illegal, and clearly the FTC (and numerous other regulatory agencies in multiple countries) agrees.
  15. The Man macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2004
    Hear, hear.

    Qualcomm should abide by FRAND rules, as does Apple for its FRAND related patents. One of those rules states that competitors can license said Qualcomm patents for use in products as competition to Qualcomm. Intel and Samsung have so far not gotten a license (Samsung only has license to make Qualcomm chips, and use in own phones). Qualcomm is the only place where companies can get the modem chips from.
  16. cocky jeremy macrumors 601

    cocky jeremy

    Jul 12, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    Apple has no issue paying for it. They just don't want to have to (illegally) pay twice for the same thing.
  17. MarkB786 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2016
    Rocky Mountains, USA
    And that's the point. If they don't like working with Qualcomm, then don't.
  18. skinned66 macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    WTF is the chip good for other than its function? The tech is required to fulfill its function. Qualcomm is crazy. Apple must win; what a horrible precedent to set otherwise.
  19. MarkB786 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2016
    Rocky Mountains, USA
    Their engineers developed the technology. Qualcomm spent the $$$ developing it. Why not? Sounds like you are advocating some form of technology socialism. However, I am not aware of FRAND, so if there is something universal they are supposed to be abiding by and they have been blatantly violating that, my opinion might change.
  20. The Man macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2004
    Read into what FRAND means. Putting your patents into creating an industry standard means you agree to certain ways of handling your IP. Qualcomm agreed, but thus far have not acted according to FRAND rules.
  21. jarman92, Jan 4, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019

    jarman92 macrumors 6502

    Nov 13, 2014
    Qualcomm should get paid for the use of their tech, but FRAND requires that companies license standards-essential patents at Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory rates. Qualcomm requires manufacturers to use their chips—which they are paid for per item—and additionally pay Qualcomm royalties for the use of their patents. So these companies are paying Qualcomm twice for the same thing, and at rates that companies claim are many times higher than reasonable.

    In Apple's case, things are a little more complicated. There was some sort of scheme where Qualcomm required Apple exclusively purchase their chips in exchange for the "right" to also license their patents (lol), but Qualcomm would give Apple rebates for the chip purchases because they're such a big customer. Then Qualcomm withheld the rebates once Apple started cooperating with regulatory agencies looking into Qualcomm's obviously illegal business practices.

    Essentially, Qualcomm has been handsomely rewarded by getting their tech adopted into wireless standards (3G, LTE, now 5G, etc.). In exchange, they are required to license that tech at fair rates (FRAND) to other companies. Instead of doing that, Qualcomm extorts manufacturers by threatening to withhold their essential IP unless they also purchase Qualcomm chips and promise not to buy competitor's chips (or develop their own). Any company looking to make a product that connects to the internet must either buy Qualcomm or shut down. This is stifling innovation in order to line Qualcomm's pockets.
  22. Carnegie, Jan 4, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019

    Carnegie macrumors 6502a

    May 24, 2012
    Yes, FRAND commitments significantly change the situation. Qualcomm only has the leverage it has, when it comes to SEPs, because of their inclusion in industry standards. And they are only included in industry standards because Qualcomm made contractual commitments to license on FRAND terms which it has been blatantly violating.

    There are a lot of aspects of the situation - lots of things which Qualcomm has been doing which violate the laws of various jurisdictions and which violate the contractual commitments which it has made. We've discussed them a great deal in various other threads. So I won't go back through them here. I can point you to various legal filings and the findings of various regulatory bodies if you're interested in understanding the situation a little better.

    But Qualcomm has effectively already lost the war. It's been ordered by a number of regulatory bodies not to do a number of the things which it used to do. It's already been ordered in the case which is the subject of this thread not to do one of the things which it had been doing. What remains to sort out are the details of its loss. (And that will happen in this case as well as in other legal cases which are ongoing - or in negotiated settlements it might enter into.) What will it be able to salvage of the tactics it had been using? It's fighting to hold on to as much as it can, but it knows that it can no longer use the scheme of improper behaviors which had worked together to allow Qualcomm to extort excess royalties from industry participants and stifle competition.

    It hopes to win a few battles, and it may well do that. But, as I indicated, it's already lost the war. What's left to figure out is just what it will be left with when the all the smoke clears. How conditional will its surrender end up being?
  23. Shiro_Simba Suspended


    Sep 28, 2018
    Lucy Koh - great so in seven years we will see a settlement or resolution?

    It’s disgusting when it comes to companies and lawsuits , what a joke the process is .

    Lost faith in the system after the Apple v Samsung trial .

    The patent system is even more broken .
  24. Kaibelf macrumors 68020


    Apr 29, 2009
    Silicon Valley, CA
    It would do the world so much good if everyone just took the time to learn about FRAND.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 4, 2019 ---
    You prefer things be rushed? None of these courts are just sitting there idle in the meantime, so who out there is less important and therefore doesn't deserve the same level of access to our courts?
  25. cmaier macrumors G5

    Jul 25, 2007
    Because the law doesn’t allow you to behave in certain uncompetitive ways. You can’t use a patent to force sales of an unrelated product. You can’t convince a standards agency to adopt a standard by promising you will license your patents on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis and then not do so once the standard is adopted. You cannot sell a chip that uses a patent, and then demand that downstream customers of the chip pay you a patent license fee.

Share This Page

61 January 4, 2019