Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Qualcomm to Contest Record Taiwan Fine

Qualcomm to Contest Record Taiwan Fine

The company released a statement confirming the fine, saying it relates to business practices in violation of Taiwanese competition law. Today we learn that Taiwan's FTC has now slammed Qualcomm with yet another record fine of $773 million for violating antitrust rules for at least the last 7 years.

The FTC said that in 15 days after Qualcomm receives a formal legal document on the punishment from the commission, the firm should pay the fine if it does not appeal the decision in a court here. The fine has "no rational relationship" to Qualcomm's actual revenues in Taiwan, the company said.

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During the seven-year period, the FTC said, Qualcomm collected about NT$400 billion in licensing fees in Taiwan after licensing agreements were signed, while Taiwanese buyers paid about an additional NT$30 billion to buy the US firm's baseband chips. In its most recent reporting quarter Qualcomm said its revenue fell 11% to $5.4 billion, while its profit dropped 40% to about $900 million. Apple in the past has used only baseband chips-a key component in smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices for connecting to wireless networks-in its iPhones, but it now also uses Intel modems in some of its iPhones. China and South Korea both fined Qualcomm for similar reasons as Taiwan - Qualcomm charged unfairly high licensing fees, exploiting their market position. Others still use Qualcomm technology.

The Taiwan Fair Trade Commission said Qualcomm will need to similarly renegotiate contracts with local customers under its ruling. Qualcomm has fired back, saying that some iPhones infringe on its patents and has asked USA regulators to ban the import of some iPhones into the country, a move that has drawn the ire of some in the industry.

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As well as the fine, Qualcomm has been asked to stop including clauses in its contracts that require sensitive information from competitors on chip prices, sales targets, sales volumes, and product models; clauses that refuse to provide chips to cell phone manufacturers; and clauses that mandate exclusive trading concessions with specific businesses.

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