US Antitrust Regulator Loses Bid to Revive Qualcomm Case

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In a brief order, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said it would not rehear arguments over whether Qualcomm had engaged in anticompetitive patent-licensing practices to keep a monopoly on the market for modem chips that connect smart phones to wireless data networks.

On August 11, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit said the US Federal Trade Commission failed to establish that Qualcomm’s practices had an anticompetitive effect on the cellular chip market. The FTC had asked the entire court to rehear arguments and reconsider the panel decision.

“The fact that not one judge on the 9th Circuit thought it necessary to consider the merits of the FTC’s petition or to even ask for a response from Qualcomm validates the strength and clarity of the panel’s thorough analysis and conclusions. We thank the court for its time and efforts,” Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, said in a statement. The FTC declined to comment.

The appeals court in August had reversed a lower court ruling against Qualcomm in the antitrust lawsuit brought by the FTC.

Qualcomm was fighting a May 2019 decision by US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, in a case brought by the FTC. Koh sided with the FTC, writing that Qualcomm’s practice of requiring phone makers to sign a patent license agreement before selling them chips “strangled competition” and harmed consumers.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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