Reputed chipmaker Qualcomm has successfully convinced a court in the EU that the findings of an antitrust case from 2018 were not proven. As a result, the court overturned a fine amounting to 997 million euros (around $1.05 billion) levied at the time. The antitrust investigation alleged that Qualcomm had bribed Apple to use its LTE modems in the iPhone.
In 2018, a European Commission investigation concluded that Qualcomm paid Apple several billion dollars between 2011 and 2016 to ensure the iPhone was made only with its LTE chipset. This meant rival LTE modem makers like Intel could not compete and supply to the Cupertino giant.
The EU investigated the dealings between Apple and Qualcomm to ensure they weren’t anti-competitive. However, it concluded that Qualcomm harmed rival LTE chipmakers. After all, the paper trail showed Qualcomm had made the payments, and Apple purchased chips from the chipmaker during the timeframe in question. So, the EU fined Qualcomm 997 million euros.
Appealing and Winning
Qualcomm remained resilient and appealed the ruling in the General Court in Europe. It is the second-highest court in the region. Now the court has ruled in the US chipmaker’s favor, saying it doesn’t need to pay the fine.
The court also faulted the market regulator for its handling of the case. The judges said that several “procedural irregularities” invalidated the Commission’s analysis of Qualcomm’s conduct during the period. Additionally, the Commission couldn’t defend its case sufficiently.
The judges ruled that the market regulator which slapped Qualcomm with the hefty fine could not substantiate that Qualcomm’s payments to Apple prevented the latter from using LTE chips from another supplier. So, the court didn’t call the regulator’s decision incorrect. However, the procedural errors mentioned earlier paired with unsubstantiated evidence swung the verdict in Qualcomm’s favor.[Via Reuters]