Qualcomm wins against EU antitrust fine

Arathi Nair
Arathi Nair June 17, 2022
Updated 2022/06/17 at 6:58 PM


Qualcomm won its appeal against a 997-million-euro ($1.05 billion) sentence levied by EU antitrust regulators four years ago striking a huge setback to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s anti-Big Tech crusade.

Qualcomm paid Apple billions of dollars between 2011 and 2016 to use only its chips in all iPhones and iPads, according to the European Commission’s 2018 judgement, in order to keep rivals like Intel Corp out.

Qualcomm had abused its market position by providing financial incentives to iPhone maker Apple to solely use its chips in iPhones and iPads between 2011 and 2016, according to the EU’s competition commission. The EU General Court, however, identified a number of procedural flaws in the case and dismissed the Commission’s analysis of the behaviour it had charged against the chipmaker, according to the Associated Press.


“A number of procedural irregularities affected Qualcomm’s rights of defence and invalidate the Commission’s analysis of the conduct alleged against Qualcomm,” judges said.

“The Commission did not provide an analysis which makes it possible to support the findings that the payments concerned had actually reduced Apple’s incentives to switch to Qualcomm’s competitors in order to obtain supplies of LTE chipsets for certain iPad models to be launched in 2014 and 2015,” they said.

This is Vestager’s second major setback, as she lost the court’s support in January for a 1.06 billion euro fine imposed on Intel 12 years ago for squeezing rival Advanced Micro Devices. The General Court will rule on Google’s appeal of a record 4.34 billion euro antitrust penalties assessed for using its Android mobile operating system to drive out competitors on Sept. 14, Vestager’s next test.

When asked about the EU executive’s reaction to the verdict, a spokeswoman said “The European Commission takes note of today’s judgement by the General Court that annulled the Commission’s 2018 Decision which found that Qualcomm had abused its dominant position. “The Commission will carefully study the judgement and its implications and will reflect on possible next steps.”

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