back to article Koh-MG: Qualcomm guilty of abusing chip patent monopoly, biz promises to appeal

Qualcomm abused its monopoly on critical chip patents for decades, a US federal judge in California said on Wednesday in a decision with radical implications for the cellphone market. In a 233-page opinion [PDF] Judge Lucy Koh came down heavily on the chip designer, saying it had violated antitrust laws and "strangled …

  1. Mark 85

    So Qualcomm not only charged for the chips, but also a separate and seemingly high license fee? I can't think of any other industry that does this as usually any license fees end up in the cost the product with the more product you buy, the lower the license fee per unit. Seems like a double whammy to me.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Not sure about the double-whammy: it owns the IP and so can charge for this however it wants. The real issue is how the approach has stifled competition.

      Mind you, I seem to recall that judge Koh's pro-competition decisions have been struck down in previous appeals… And let's not forget how close Qualcomm is to the US DoD.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mark 85: Were you not paying attention to the lawsuits between Qualcomm and Apple? That was one of Apple's biggest issues with Qualcomm.

      Charlie Clark: Yes they "own the IP" but they CANNOT charge for it however they want. At least not for their patents covered under FRAND licensing, which would be any patent applicable to cellular standards like LTE. That's an agreement every participant in the standards process is required to sign as a condition of participation (no one forces them to participate, but if they don't the others will do their damnedest to design the standards around the patents held by non-participants)

      A growing number of standards organizations are explicitly forbidding 'double dipping' and licensing based on the price of a device in the FRAND agreement participants sign. But of course that does nothing to restrict existing IP, and those questions are settled in court (after years of fighting, and probably not consistently in different jurisdictions)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Double wammy

    Its a bit like No Claims Discount insurance and a lot of software where you buy the software and then you have to buy the annual license to use it!

  3. sitta_europea Silver badge

    I've read the Opinion.

    It's like reading something from the days of the investigations into the tobacco companies.

    They're just a bunch of fucking gangsters.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "We strongly disagree with the judge's conclusions, her interpretation of the facts and her application of the law,"

    I'm sure you do but she's the judge and it's her decision.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's pretty much boilerplate after any company loses a big decision. This will go on appeal, but it is an open question whether Trump's FTC will support the appeal given that his DOJ wrote a memo in favor of Qualcomm. His desire to help US companies "win the 5G war" might cause an under the table settlement that amounts to a slap on the wrist, similar to what Microsoft had after a new administration took charge of the process.

      If the trade war goes on very long, Qualcomm might find themselves collateral damage and designed out of most Android phones not destined for the US market.

      1. whoseyourdaddy

        " Qualcomm might find themselves collateral damage and designed out of most Android phones not destined for the US market."

        If that were the case, Intel's modem business would have more than that one customer.

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

Other stories you might like