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Qualcomm seeks dismissal of FTC antitrust lawsuit

FTC accused the wireless chip giant of maintaining a monopoly over chips for cellular phones through a "no license, no chips" policy.

Qualcomm is accused of maintaining its dominance over the wireless chip market through anticompetitive behavior.
Claudia Cruz/CNET

Qualcomm has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission that accuses the wireless chip maker of maintaining its market dominance through anticompetitive behavior.

The company's motion, filed Monday in the US District Court in San Jose, California, contends that the FTC's complaint fails to support claims of antitrust violations or competitive harm.

"The complaint does not contain any factual allegations of anticompetitive harm to Qualcomm's rivals in the supply of modem chips," the company said in its 30-page filing.

The FTC's lawsuit, filed in January, accuses Qualcomm, the world's biggest maker of baseband processors for mobile phones, of maintaining a monopoly over chips for cellular phones through a "no license, no chips" policy. That policy imposed "onerous" supply and patent-licensing terms to extract high royalties from cellphone makers and weaken competitors, the commission said.

The FTC said the patents Qualcomm held are standard-essential patents -- technology that is essential to the industry and must be licensed to competitors under fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms (FRAND). But the complaint alleges that Qualcomm consistently refused to license some standard-essential patents to rival chipmakers, in violation of its FRAND commitments.

The lawsuit continues a pattern of antitrust scrutiny directed at Qualcomm in recent years. In December, the South Korean Fair Trade Commission hit the chipset maker with an $850 million fine for maintaining an "unfair business model" and creating a monopoly with its practices. In February, China fined Qualcomm almost $1 billion as part of a long-running antimonopoly investigation into the company.

The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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