Qualcomm wins battle against $ 1 billion EU antitrust fine


Luxembourg — U.S. chip maker Qualcom wins the EU’s antitrust fines of € 997 million ($ 1.05 billion) imposed by EU antitrust regulators four years ago. It has brought a major setback in the crackdown on big tech by legal officer Marguerite Vestager.

The European Commission said in a 2018 decision that Qualcomm will pay Apple billions of dollars between 2011 and 2016 and will only use chips on all iPhones and iPads to block rivals such as Intel Corp. rice field.

Qualcomm’s fines are one of several fines Vestager has imposed on companies ranging from the Alphabet unit Google to banks and truck makers over anti-competitive practices. Apple, Amazon and Facebook are investigating.

Europe’s second-highest court of first instance invalidated the EU’s accreditation and accused EU competitors of handling the case.

“Many procedural irregularities have affected Qualcomm’s right to counsel, overriding the Commission’s analysis of alleged actions against Qualcomm,” the judge said.

“The Commission found that the relevant payments actually reduced Apple’s incentive to switch to Qualcomm’s competitors to get a supply of LTE chipsets for certain iPad models to be launched in 2014 and 2015. Did not provide an analysis that would allow us to support. “They said.

EU competition executors can appeal legal issues to the European Court of Justice (CJEU), the Supreme Court of the European Union.

The Commission said it would carefully study the decisions and their implications and consider the next steps. Qualcomm did not immediately respond to the comment request sent by email.

“The high-level conclusion is that the court has instructed the Commission to be very careful about pricing abuse,” said Assimakis Komninos, a partner at law firm White & Case.

“The Commission will be very hesitant to start investigating such cases unless we are really confident,” he said.

This is the second major defeat for Vestager, who lost court support in January after being fined € 1.60 billion by Intel 12 years ago for squeezing rival Advanced Micro Devices.

Vestager’s next test is on September 14, when the Court of First Instance Google for a record € 4.34 billion antitrust breach imposed on oppressing rivals using the Android mobile operating system. We will rule the objection.

The case is T-235 / 18.

($ 1 = 0.9532 euros)

Hu Yun Qi