Business News Update : US FTC drops anti-trust case against Qualcomm

Insight Online News

San Francisco, March 30 : The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided not to pursue the anti-trust case against global chip-maker Qualcomm.

In a statement, the agency said that given the significant headwinds facing the commission in this matter, “the FTC will not petition the Supreme Court to review the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in FTC v. Qualcomm.”

The FTC first filed a complaint against Qualcomm in 2017, charging that the company has a monopoly in baseband processors, adding that the company used its position to “suppress competition and overcharge smartphone manufacturers”.

In 2019, a judge for the US District Court ruled in favour of the FTC but in August 2020, the decision was reversed by a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said on Monday that she continues to believe that “the district court’s conclusion that Qualcomm violated the antitrust laws was entirely correct and that the court of appeals erred in concluding otherwise”.

“Now more than ever, the FTC and other law enforcement agencies need to boldly enforce the antitrust laws to guard against abusive behaviour by dominant firms, including in high-technology markets and those that involve intellectual property,” Slaughter said.

“I am particularly concerned about the potential for anticompetitive or unfair behaviour in the context of standard setting and the FTC will closely monitor conduct in this arena.”

The FTC’s complaint challenged Qualcomm’s unlawful maintenance of a monopoly in baseband processors, semiconductor devices that enable cellular communications in cell phones and other products.

It asserted that Qualcomm has engaged in exclusionary conduct that taxes its competitors’ baseband processor sales, reduces competitors’ ability and incentive to innovate, and raises prices paid by consumers for cell phones and tablets.


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