back to article Qualcomm faces $853m fine for alleged antitrust violation

US chip giant Qualcomm is to face a fine of $853m (£696m) for alleged antitrust violations by South Korea's top regulator. The Korea Fair Trade Commission today reached the decision after a three-year probe of Qualcomm, finding that some of the company’s business practices have violated Korean competition law. The fine is the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Quallcomm need to get a pet Patent Troll located in East Texas to do the predatory pricing operation. Seems to work fine for other companies...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Here's a tip,

    Dont try to do what Apple do in the US outside the US, you are not protected by the State Department like the Jobs Messiah

    I can see this being a revenge prosecution for what the US are doing to Samsung

  3. Comments are attributed to your handle


    It's finger-rapping good!

  4. Tigertoon


    If I understood correctly the issue is about FRAND patents that weren't licensed according to FRAND principles.

    Qualcom bundled those FRAND pstents into mandatory packages: if you wanted those essential patents you had to buy a bunch of useless and expensive patents

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Frand

      Ahhh, a Sky TV subscription.

  5. ecofeco Silver badge


    Don Rosenberg, general counsel at Qualcomm said the company strongly believes that the KFTC findings are "inconsistent with the facts, disregard the economic realities of the marketplace, and misapply fundamental tenets of competition law."

    Translation: "What do you mean we can't just do want we want?"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Patents are supposed to limited usage of IP to the inventor

    If they did the R&D for the patent then it seems a little unfair to be forced to give it to their competitors.

    Whilst making the price high for their competitors to use their IP seems unfair the answer was for the competitors to invent it themselves, they didn't so instead they invest in solicitors rather than R&D. That seem much more unfair to me

    1. Vehlin

      Re: Patents are supposed to limited usage of IP to the inventor

      These are standards essential patents, as sunch they must be licenced under FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Descriminatory) terms.

      Qualcomm got together with other industry tech companies to create a set of standards within (in this case) mobile phone chipsets. Had Qualcomm not wished to be a part of the standard there was no legal requirement for them to do so. By getting their patented technology into the agreed standard they massively increase use of their technology. The cost of this is that they must licence their technology to users of the standard under FRAND principles.

      Let's say you design a new safety mechanism for usb chargers that makes them impossible to explode. You could either produce your own chargers and sell them on the open market, licence your invention to a company or two to include in their chargers or you can come to an agreement with the standards body (BS, ISO etc) to make it an integral part of the design for all USB chargers. If you were making your own chargers you'd have a unique selling point that you could possibly tack on £2 onto the price of the charger. If you licenced the product to a company (that had bigger market presence) you might see 50p on every charger sold, however they'd sell way more than 4x the volume of you selling just your own chargers. The final option may only offer you a return of 10p per charger, but if every one sold in the country must contain your technology that adds up fast.

      What Qualcomm are doing is the equivalent of you agreeing for your technology to become part of the standard, then once the standard is agreed demanding 50p per charger for the tech.

      The non-discriminatory part of FRAND also comes into play. Suppose your arch rival in one of your other businesses (selling kettles for example) decides to get into the USB charger market. To do so they need to get the licence off you to allow them to include your design (which is required by the standard). You think "Ha! I don't like you very much. You can't have a licence" or "I'll charge you £2 per unit for the licence". Neither of these options is allowable under FRAND.

  7. GrapeBunch


    Could there be a TPP subtext here? Under TPP, would such a fine apply? Trump has said he will deep-six the TPP. Just askin'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TPP

      Probably if you want to sell anything Qualcomm-made in South Korea (one of the centres of electronics design and consumption) then you better pay the fine.

      Very easy to impound goods on entry and so forth ...

  8. Flame Boar

    Korea has been digital since the late 1990s

    I worked in South Korea from 1993 through 1998. At first I used my OKI900 analog phone. I switched to a Samsung SCH4400 CDMA phone in 1998 after Korea went digital. There is a tag on the back of the phone and reads: Digital by QUALCOMM. In 2007, I got a Samsung SCH-M600 when I was back in South Korea. This was also a CDMA phone.

    Qualcomm has been licensing technology to Korean companies for almost 20 years, therefore I find it surprising that they just realized that QUALCOMM's practices were unfair.

  9. Gordon Pryra

    Slap on the wrist again

    They made roughly 7 billion on the patients, and were fined under a billion.

    Considering its unlikely much tax was paid, I doubt the bean counters at Qualcomm will loose much sleep over this and force any changes in their business practices.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021