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Qualcomm fined $774 million for abusing monopoly on smartphone modems in Taiwan


Qualcomm has been hit with a nearly $774 million fine by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission, which said today that the chip maker abused its monopoly over smartphone modems to squeeze higher licensing fees and better terms out of its customers. Taiwan is only the latest country to go after Qualcomm over its expensive and onerous licensing terms: China and South Korea have both fined the company in the past two years, and Apple is now engaged in a series of global lawsuits against Qualcomm over many of the same practices.

The commission said that Qualcomm’s dominance in CDMA and LTE chips, as well as its major patent holdings for both technologies, let the company abuse its position and refuse to license necessary patents. It’ll now be required to end those practices and parts of unfavorable deals it forged with other companies.

Qualcomm disagrees with the ruling and says that it plans to appeal both the ruling and the fine. “The fine bears no rational relationship to the amount of Qualcomm’s revenues or activities in Taiwan, and Qualcomm will appeal the amount of the fine and the method used to calculate it,” the company writes in a statement.

At this point, things aren’t looking great for Qualcomm. While you’re most likely to have heard of the company because of its Snapdragon processor line, which powers most major Android phones, Qualcomm makes most of its money from licensing patents. That business is now under attack around the world, as companies and governments get fed up with the company’s allegedly improper licensing practices and begin to take them to court.



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