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Qualcomm loses the battle against European antitrust


Qualcomm lost its battle with European antitrust authorities on Thursday over the data request after a European court reaffirmed regulators' right to access it, in a case that fined the company $292 million.

The ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (CJEU) strengthens the European Commission's hands in other antitrust investigations.

Skirmishes between Qualcomm and the European Commission have seen them receive total fines of €1.2 billion in two cases in the past three years for using their market power to thwart competitors, including Intel.

In the first case, the company was fined 242 million euros and in the second case was fined 997 million euros for abusing its market dominance in relation to LTE chips.

Complaints from European antitrust authorities date back to 2017 when Qualcomm was asked to provide more information in a case in which it was accused of passive pricing between 2009 and 2011 in order to crush The British Semiconductor Company Icera, which was later bought by Invidia.

In July 2019, the European Commission imposed a €242 million fine against Qualcomm for its abuse of its dominance in the 3G chip market, selling the chipsets for less than the cost in order to force its rival Icera out of the market.

Qualcomm sold certain quantities of its three UMTS for less than the cost to Huawei and ZTE in order to eliminate Icera, its main market rival at the time.

Qualcomm said the request went beyond the scope of the investigation and took its case to the General Court, Europe's second-highest court, but lost the challenge in 2019 and then appealed to the European Union Court of Justice (CJEU).

The Court supported European antitrust bodies.

The judges said: Given the broad investigative powers granted to the Commission under Regulation 1/2003, it was up to the Commission to decide whether a particular element of information was necessary to enable it to highlight the violation of competition rules.

Qualcomm is the subject of a third case in which European antitrust authorities are investigating whether the company engaged in anti-competitive conduct by taking advantage of its market position in relation to 5G modem chips in the rf chip market.