Qualcomm loses suit against EU Antitrust Regulator's Data demand
In a case that will strengthen the Court of Justice of the European Union's (CJEU) hand in anti-trust investigations, the Europe's top court has reaffirmed EU anti-trust regulators' right to investigate Qualcomm – an American multinational corporation. The company has already been levied a whopping 242-million-euro ($292.60 million) fine.
The Company Qualcomm currently headquartered in San Diego, California, was incorporated in Delaware. The company is engaged in creation of intellectual property, semiconductors, software, and services related to wireless technology.
The Commission has already fined Qualcomm 1.2 billion Euros in two cases in the last three years for using its market power to thwart rivals including Intel.
Before the appeal, the EU had asked Qualcomm to provide more information about its business practices. In July 2015, the EU had officially launched two antitrust investigations against the company. These lawsuits were filed to assess whether the chipmaker abuses its dominant market position to force consumers to use its chips.
In December 2015, the EU formally accused the company of using its dominant position in the mobile phone chip market to suppress competitors.
In the ongoing investigation, the EU asked Qualcomm to provide more relevant information. However, the company subsequently appealed the EU's request. In its appeal, it requested the Court to reject the EU's request. Qualcomm stated that the time collecting the data required by the EU would cost at least 3 million euros. It will also cost thousands of hours of work by fifty employees and sixteen external consultants.
Qualcomm said that the request exceeded the investigation's scope. The company also approached the General Court, Europe's second-highest, but lost its challenge in 2019.
In April 2019, the EU Intermediate Court rejected Qualcomm's appeal. On 28th January, 2021, the EU Court of Justice once again rejects Qualcomm's appeal.
In July 2019, just one month after Qualcomm filed an appeal, the European Commission announced that it had imposed a fine of 242 million euros (approximately $293 million) on the company due to Qualcomm's "predatory behaviour" between 2009 and 2011. This fine was levied because of price manipulation resulting in forcing competitors to withdraw from the market.
Qualcomm also said: "The European Commission spent several years investigating our sales to two customers, but each customer said that they favour Qualcomm chips, not because of the price, but because the competitors' chipsets are technically inferior".
Followed by this, the company then appealed to the CJEU.
The CJEU however supported the EU antitrust watchdog and ruled, "Having regard to the broad powers of investigation conferred on the Commission by Regulation No. 1/2003, it is for the Commission to decide whether a particular item of information is necessary to enable it to bring to light an infringement of the competition rules".
This is the third case against Qualcomm in which EU regulators are investigating whether it engaged in anti-competitive behaviour by leveraging its market position in 5G modem chips in the radio frequency chip market.