Qualcomm's legal battle with European regulators took a twist today. The European Commission says it has fined the chipmaker €997 million ($1.23 billion). In a release, the regulatory body says Qualcomm was fined for “abusing its market dominance” in LTE baseband chipsets.
According to the Commission, Qualcomm unfairly repressed rivals by paying Apple to not by chips from other suppliers. The offence goes against Europe Union antitrust rules.
While the company is accused of paying Apple, it has also been locked in a legal dispute with Cupertino. The partnership was once rosy when Apple agreed to exclusively use Qualcomm processors in iPhone and iPad devices. This collaboration was extended in 2013 and again in 2016 without a hitch.
However, cracks appeared when the latest agreement started to win down. Apple reportedly started scouting for other chip partners for the new iPhone. By then, the relationship had soured, with Qualcomm suing Apple in the U.S. and attempting to remove iPhones from the market.
The company says Apple leverages the Intel silicon and abuses six of its patents that help preserve battery life. Apple, employs a multi-supplier chain for its processors and also has Qualcomm-powered and Samsung-powered devices.
In its request, Qualcomm asks the ITC to bar “iPhones that use cellular baseband processors other than those supplied by Qualcomm's affiliates.”
Dealing with the Fine
Qualcomm's hefty European Commission fine amounts to 4.9% of its whole turnover for 2017. So, while the fine will not cripple the company, it will certainly be felt. Of course, the chip giant is not taking the ruling lying down and has said it will appeal the decision.
“We are confident this agreement did not violate EU competition rules or adversely affect market competition or European consumers,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, in a statement. “We have a strong case for judicial review and we will immediately commence that process.”