Setback for Qualcomm: It has to license modem tech to competitors

Marco Green
November 7, 2018

In an ongoing antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm led by the Federal Trade Commission, the company is forced to license its patents to its rivals, according to a preliminary ruling by the USA federal court judge. However, for a standard to be defined, one of those technologies needs to be chosen.

"Undisputed evidence in Qualcomm's own documents demonstrates that a modem chip is a core component of the cellular handset, which only underscores how a [standard essential patent] license to supply modem chips is for the objective of practicing or implementing cellular standards and why Qualcomm can not discriminate against modem chip suppliers", Koh wrote, as reported by sister site CNET. As a resolution, the company or companies developing the technology to be used as standard agree to license these patents to competitors under FRAND terms. It appears that Qualcomm might be forced to share some of its patents, according to a recent federal court ruling reported by the Verge.

Neither Qualcomm, the FTC, and Intel commented on the matter. Not doing that would allow Qualcomm "to achieve a monopoly in the modem chip market and limit competing implementations of those components." the court explained. In its lawsuit, FTC accused Qualcomm of overcharging customers, such as Apple, for its patents.

Qualcomm has countered, claiming that Apple is also using a number of the firm's patents outside of agreed licensing contracts. Both of which have had to rely on Qualcomm's modem chips whenever they manufactured their phones.

This court case is running parallel to a legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple.

The current ruling should allow more companies to build high-performance wireless modems and increase competition, all of which should benefit the consumer in the end.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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