Judge rules that FTC suit v Qualcomm can proceed

A US federal judge has ruled against Qualcomm’s motion to dismiss a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case that alleges the smartphone chip supplier used its strong position to compete unfairly.

The FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm can now proceed — which means Qualcomm has to fight US regulators at the same time as it deals with a separate $1 billion lawsuit filed by Apple.

US District Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California in San Jose denied Qualcomm’s motion to dismiss the FTC’s lawsuit, saying the agency’s allegations would amount to anticompetitive behavior on Qualcomm’s part if proved true, Reuters reported.

Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg said: “In deciding Qualcomm’s motion to dismiss, the court was required to accept all of the FTC’s factual allegations as true and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the FTC.

“We respect the court’s decision, which is based on the legal standards that apply at this early stage of the case.

“We look forward to further proceedings in which we will be able to develop a more accurate factual record and the FTC will have the burden to prove its claims which we continue to believe are without merit.”

Reuters reported that the FTC sued Qualcomm in January, alleging the company engaged in anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly on the chips that let cell phones connect to mobile data networks.

The FTC highlighted Qualcomm’s “no license, no chips” policy under which the San Diego company refuses to sell chips unless customers also sign a patent license agreement and pay Qualcomm fees.

Qualcomm refused to grant licenses to its rivals in order to keep a monopoly, the FTC alleged.