Qualcomm has scored a win in court, as the firm has successfully appealed a 997 million euro ($1.05 billion) fine from EU antitrust regulators for kickbacks paid to Apple for using its LTE chips in its iOS devices, says a Reuters report.
Regulators slapped the fine on Qualcomm after a 2018 European Commission investigation determined that Apple received payments from 2011 to 2016 to ensure that Qualcomm’s LTE chipset was the sole chipset in Apple’s iOS devices, locking out similar solutions from rivals, including Intel.
The General Court, Europe’s second-highest, annulled the EU finding and faulted the EU competition enforcer, Margrethe Vestager, over the handling of the case.
“A number of procedural irregularities affected Qualcomm’s rights of defence and invalidate the Commission’s analysis of the conduct alleged against Qualcomm,” judges said.
“The Commission did not provide an analysis which makes it possible to support the findings that the payments concerned had actually reduced Apple’s incentives to switch to Qualcomm’s competitors in order to obtain supplies of LTE chipsets for certain iPad models to be launched in 2014 and 2015.”
EU competition enforcer Vestager can appeal the judgment to the EU Court of Justice. The Commission said it would carefully study the judgment before considering its next steps.
This is the second big setback for Vestager who in January lost the court’s backing for a 1.06 billion euro fine on Intel 12 years ago for squeezing rival Advanced Micro Devices.
Vestager’s next possible setback could take place on Sept. 14 when the General Court will rule on Google’s challenge against a record 4.34 billion euro antitrust fine levied for using its Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals.