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Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Qualcomm Faces $774 Million Fine in Taiwan Over Antitrust Violations

Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) plans to impose a fine of NT$23.4 billion (US$773.9 million) on Qualcomm for violating the Taiwan Fair Trade Act.

The FTC launched an investigation in February 2015 into whether the mobile phone technology and chipmaker's patent licensing arrangements violate the Taiwan Fair Trade Act.

The FTC examined other chipmakers and contract mobile phone makers, as well as upstream and downstream vendors in the mobile phone supply chain.

The Taiwanese regulator said Qualcomm has monopoly market status over key mobile phone standards and by not providing products to clients who don't agree with its conditions, the U.S. company is violating local laws. It said Taiwanese companies had purchased $30 billion worth of Qualcomm baseband chips.

"Qualcomm holds big number of standard essential patents in CDMA, WCDMA and LTE segments and is the dominant provider of CDMA, WCDMA and LTE baseband chips," the FTC said. "It abused its advantage in mobile communication standards, refused to license necessary patents."

Besides the fine, the Fair Trade Commission told Qualcomm to remove previously signed deals that force competitors to provide price, customer names, shipment, model name and other sensitive information as well as other clauses in its agreements.

"Qualcomm disagrees with the decision summarized in the TFTC's press release and intends to seek to stay any required behavioral measures and appeal the decision to the Taiwanese courts after receiving the TFTC's formal decision, which is expected in the next several weeks. The fine bears no rational relationship to the amount of Qualcomm's revenues or activities in Taiwan, and Qualcomm will appeal the amount of the fine and the method used to calculate it," Qualcomm said in a statement.

Regulators at the European Commission, as well as in China and South Korea, have all filed antitrust charges against Qualcomm, claiming that it has used anti-competitive methods to squeeze out rivals.

Two years ago, China's National Development and Reform Commission has also found that Qualcomm had violated its anti-monopoly law. The ruling includes a fine of 6.088 billion yuan (US$975 million) and imposes conditions on royalties charged on phones sold in China.

South Korea's antitrust regulator has also slapped a record 1.03 trillion won (US$853 million) fine on Qualcomm for violating antitrust laws.

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