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FTC is Abandoning Antitrust Lawsuit Against Qualcomm

FTC is Abandoning Antitrust Lawsuit Against Qualcomm

The United States Federal Trade Commission is abandoning its antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm, reports Bloomberg. The FTC will not request the Supreme Court to review a 2020 federal appeals court decision that found Qualcomm’s licensing practices are fair and not anticompetitive.

In a statement, FTC chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said the agency is facing “significant headwinds” attempting to get the appeals court ruling overturned.

“Given the significant headwinds facing the Commission in this matter, the FTC will not petition the Supreme Court to review the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in FTC v. Qualcomm. The FTC’s staff did an exceptional job presenting the case, and I continue to believe that the district court’s conclusion that Qualcomm violated the antitrust laws was entirely correct and that the court of appeals erred in concluding otherwise. Now more than ever, the FTC and other law enforcement agencies need to boldly enforce the antitrust laws to guard against abusive behavior by dominant firms, including in high-technology markets and those that involve intellectual property. I am particularly concerned about the potential for anticompetitive or unfair behavior in the context of standard setting and the FTC will closely monitor conduct in this arena.”

In May 2019, Judge Lucy Koh ruled in favor of the FTC, in the case that began in 2017. Koh had ordered Qualcomm to renegotiate all licensing terms with its customers and make patent licenses available to rival cellular modem suppliers on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory or “FRAND” terms.

Qualcomm appealed the ruling and in 2020 an appeals court overturned Judge Koh’s decision, vacating the order that mandated that Qualcomm re-establish all of its licensing deals.

With the FTC not planning to further pursue the case to the Supreme Court, the four-year-long antitrust legal battle that Qualcomm has been facing is effectively over.