Qualcomm fined $272M in latest EU antitrust fine

From The Verge: The EU has fined Qualcomm €242 million (around $272 million) for selling 3G modem chips at predatory prices in an attempt to drive a competing supplier, Icera, out of the market. The European Commission says that the company used its market dominance to sell chips meant for mobile internet dongles at below cost between 2009 and 2011. Today’s announcement marks the end of the EU’s nearly four year long investigation into Qualcomm’s actions.

Announcing the fine, the EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, said that “Qualcomm’s strategic behavior prevented competition and innovation in this market, and limited the choice available to consumers in a sector with a huge demand and potential for innovative technologies.”

The EU’s investigation found that Qualcomm sold its 3G chips at below cost prices to Huawei and ZTE just as Icera was emerging as a viable competitor. The Commission called these price concessions “targeted” and said that they “allowed [Qualcomm] to maximise the negative impact on Icera’s business.”

Today’s fine is just the latest in a series of antitrust rulings that Qualcomm has been hit with in recent years. Earlier this year, a US judge ruled that Qualcomm charges “unreasonable high” royalties for its patents, and criticized its practice of offering discounts to customers who agree to exclusively use its chips. This latter practice was also the subject of a $1.2 billion fine, also from the EU, that was issued last year. Regulators in South Korea, China, and Taiwan have fined Qualcomm over a variety of anticompetitive practices.

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