FTC files complaint against Qualcomm citing royalty deal with Apple

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against Apple supplier Qualcomm, accusing the company of “using anticompetitive tactics to maintain its monopoly in the supply of a key semiconductor device used in cell phones.” The FTC alleges that Qualcomm violated the law by forcing cell phone manufacturers to agree to its preferred license terms to gain access to its processors. The company is also accused of suppressing competition by charging Apple reduced patent royalties from 2011 to 2016 to keep the company loyal.
MacRumors reports that Qualcomm reacted to the lawsuit by claiming the company never threatened to withhold its chips to gain an unfair advantage, calling the FTC’s argument a “flawed legal theory” that includes “significant misconceptions about the mobile technology industry.” Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel for Qualcomm, said the company’s discussions with the FTC showed the agency “lacked basic information about the industry and was instead relying on inaccurate information and presumptions.” In a rare dissenting opinion, FTC Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen sided with Qualcomm, saying she had seen “no robust economic evidence of exclusion and anticompetitive effects.”

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