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Qualcomm Loses Bid To End Chip Antitrust Case

 |  January 9, 2023

Qualcomm must face an antitrust suit over its exclusive chip licensing practices, despite an appeals court ruling rejecting a similar case brought by the Federal Trade Commission, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled.

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley let part of the lawsuit move forward in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, where the chip manufacturer is locked in a years-long fight over its agreements with phone and tablet makers that have no choice but to license its “standard essential patents.”

In a37-page ruling, US District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in San Jose, California, declined on Jan. 6 to throw out claims that Qualcomm violated California state antitrust law through “exclusive dealing” relationships with Apple Inc and other part suppliers and device makers to maintain a monopoly in the modem chip market. But the judge dismissed an allegation that Qualcomm unlawfully tied together the sale of its chips and patent licensing.

Read more: Chips Tech Firm Arm Sues Qualcomm & Nuvia

San Diego-based Qualcomm can still try to defeat the case entirely at a later stage in the litigation.

Qualcomm had argued all of the plaintiffs’ claims were barred after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2020 lost on appeal a case with similar allegations. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in the FTC case said Qualcomm’s practices did not violate federal antitrust law.

A Qualcomm spokesperson on Monday said that the “ruling narrows the plaintiffs’ remaining case, leaving only allegations of exclusive dealing,” claims against which Qualcomm has “strong defenses.”