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In Qualcomm anti-trust battles, Korean FTC could be its ticking time bomb

By Jules Wang March 10, 2019, 8:30 pm
Qualcomm and BOE

Among the plethora of lawsuitsplethora of lawsuits semiconductors company Qualcomm is anti-trust allegations of coersion of its buyers to license its CDMA and other modem-based patents and lock out any potential competition.

In South Korea, the nation’s Fair Trade Commission came out hard against the San Diego-based chipmaker, fining it some $865 million fining it some $860 million late in 2016. Since then, it’s had to face a similar suit in the US.

Back in South Korea, though, there have been some concerns about the KFTC’s lack of enforcement against Qualcomm, which was supposed to renegotiate licenses with its vendors. The comission reported back in October that Apple, Huawei, Intel, LG and MediaTek are just some of the clients that have yet to report a new contract that incorporates some element of standard essential rates. The agency could eventually take action, but a high official stated that it would have to find Qualcomm in contempt of the order first.

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Florian Mueller, who pens the FOSS Patents blog, sees that the KFTC has a very long wick when it comes to dealing with Qualcomm — it granted the company three times the number of hearings it usually hears when making its fining decision — but that it will have to act soon to enforce its antitrust statutes to enforce its jurisdiction and address public criticism of its slow repsonse.

What puts the KFTC aside from agencies like the European Commission and the US FTC is that it has the power to lay criminal charges and put people in jail with quasi-judicial authority. In Qualcomm’s case, it could be under the gun for more fines or even prison time for executives.

 

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