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Qualcomm “strangled” rival smartphone modem suppliers, Intel claims

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Intel Antitrust Issues

Chipmaker Intel on Friday reiterated its antitrust accusations against Qualcomm, once again stating that the San Diego company crippled its modem business using a variety of illegal means, ultimately forcing it to divest from the segment so as to maintain its monopoly. The renewed allegations were detailed in a filing that Intel’s general counsel, Steven Rodgers, submitted to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Rodgers summarized the brief in a subsequent blog post.

Qualcomm went all in on antitrust violations ahead of 5G rollouts

According to Intel, Qualcomm abused its market position to bully any potential rivals into obsolescence. The company’s supposedly predatory licensing model bordered on patent trolling and ultimately harmed not just competing entities but also device manufacturers and individual consumers, the filing reads.

Intel’s motion aims to influence an appellate process reviewing the FTC’s successful antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm whose first-instance ruling arrived in May. Qualcomm was initially ordered to renegotiate all of its anti-competitive licensing agreements but won a stay on the ruling in early summer. Intel divested itself from the mobile modem market almost immediately, primarily because Apple dropped its wireless modems in favor of those from Qualcomm. The last Apple device to feature an Intel modem is the iPhone 11, launched just several months ago.

Ultimately, it would appear Qualcomm went all in on crushing competition ahead of 5G rollouts, seeking to solidify its already entrenched position in the mobile telecom space before the dawn of a new technology would allow anyone to attempt catching up. That’s what’s suggested by the original verdict which Qualcomm’s now fiercely contesting. Regardless of whether its appeal is successful, Qualcomm already got what it wanted out of its illegal behavior, Intel claims. The chipmaker essentially taxed all mobile solutions from its clients, irrespective of their links to its patents, or lack thereof.

A number of federal agencies previously came out in Qualcomm’s defense, urging the courts to refrain from enforcing immediate revisions of its licensing agreements. According to them, doing so would endanger national security as Qualcomm’s unique role of a government contractor simply cannot be replaced overnight.

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