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EU Accused Of Mismanagement By Qualcomm At Antitrust Hearing

 |  March 14, 2023

On Monday, Qualcomm raised concerns about the European Union’s ongoing antitrust investigation during hearings before the European Union’s second-highest court. They argued that law enforcement actions were being taken without any evidence of anticompetitive behavior. 

Qualcomm is at the European General Court fighting a 242 million euro ($259 million) fine for abusing its dominance in the chip market handed down by the EU, which claims Qualcomm sold chipsets below cost to illegally undercut competitors.

“Chronic mismanagement and blatant prosecutorial bias” is how Miguel Rato, one of Qualcomm’s lawyers, characterized the EU’s case against the company.

The investigation, which began in 2015, revealed potential antitrust violations occurring between 2009 and 2011. At the time, Brussels claims, Qualcomm was deeply concerned about startup rival Icera, which was producing the sets of electronic components for now nearly obsolete technology called “dongles” that allow tablets and laptops to connect to Wi-Fi.

Read more: US Chip Maker Qualcomm Asks EU Court To Overturn Antitrust Fine

The practice Qualcomm is accused of, known as predatory pricing, involves selling products at a steeply discounted price to block rivals from selling their own goods.

The European Commission asserts that over a span of several years, Qualcomm supplied an advanced chipset to the Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei at a discounted cost. The two firms reportedly together made up over 50 percent of the chipset customer market.

Qualcomm contends this case has gone through numerous managers, causing hindrances due to delayed evidence and entropy. Additionally, ZTE is reported to have stated that it was unable to provide any more information concerning the sales as those previously entailed in the matter are no longer employed by the company.

“It is a great pity to conclude that ZTE cannot provide the information,” the partially state-owned company said in an email read out in court Monday by Qualcomm’s counsel.