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November 23, 2009

European Commission drops Qualcomm antitrust case

Complainants withdrew or intend to drop their complaints, says commission

By CBR Staff Writer

The European Commission has decided to close formal antitrust proceedings against chipset manufacturer Qualcomm concerning an alleged breach of EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant market position.

The commission said in a statement: “All complainants have now withdrawn or indicated their intention to withdraw their complaints, and the commission has therefore to decide where best to focus its resources and priorities. In view of this, the commission does not consider it appropriate to invest further resources in this case.”

In October 2005, Ericsson, Nokia, Broadcom, Panasonic, NEC and Texas Instruments filed coordinated complaints alleging that Qualcomm was both violating antitrust laws and breaching its own commitments to standard-setting bodies to license its declared essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

In parallel with the investigation by the European Commission, antitrust authorities in other jurisdictions initiated investigations against Qualcomm and the Korean Fair Trade Commission imposed orders concerning Qualcomm’s restrictive practices and imposed a fine on Qualcomm. In addition, the Japanese Fair Trade Commission has ordered Qualcomm to cease and desist certain licensing practices.

Ericsson said that it has withdrawn its complaint to the European Commission regarding Qualcomm’s WCDMA (3G) licensing activities, but said that it will continue its ongoing discussion with authorities around the world in relation to Qualcomm’s licensing practices. 

Nina Macpherson, VP and head of general counsel’s office at Ericsson, said: Ericsson has cooperated with the European Commission’s four-year investigation to ensure consumers in Europe do not pay higher prices because of Qualcomm’s unfair licensing practices.

“Our goal remains the same: to prevent any patent owner from distorting competition and extorting unreasonable, excessive royalties that reflect neither patent value nor R&D investments in the standards concerned.

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