A group of world¹s biggest wireless technology firms has slammed Qualcomm for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive conduct in the licensing of essential patents for 3G mobile technology.
The industry giants including Broadcom, Ericsson, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic Mobile Communications and Texas Instruments today each filed complaints to the European Commission requesting that it investigate and stop Qualcomm¹s allegedly unfair business practices.
The companies claim that Qualcomm is violating EU competition law and failing to meet the commitments it previously made to international standard bodies around the world that it would license its technology on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
Without these commitments, the WCDMA 3G standard would not have been adopted, the group argues.
"Qualcomm's anti-competitive behaviour has harmful effects for the mobile telecommunications sector in Europe, as well as elsewhere, because carriers and consumers are facing higher prices and fewer choices," the coalition of companies stated.
According to the group, Qualcomm is trying to exclude competing manufacturers of chipsets for mobile phones from the market and preventing others from entering. The firm is accused of "a number of abuses," ranging from the refusal to license essential patents to potential chipset competitors on fair terms, to offering lower royalty rates to handset customers who buy chipsets exclusively from Qualcomm.
Qualcomm also stands accused of charging royalties for its WCDMA essential patents that are "excessive and disproportionate"; in particular by imposing the same royalty rate on WCDMA 3G handsets as it does for CDMA2000 3G.
"Major telecommunications equipment companies on three continents are standing up and saying that Qualcomm's business practices are unfair, anti-competitive and ultimately illegal. Qualcomm's illegal practices stifle competition and ultimately hurt the consumer," said David Dull, senior vice president, business affairs; general counsel; and secretary, Broadcom.
This view was echoed by Kasim Alfalahi, vice president IPR licensing and patents, Ericsson: "Qualcomm committed to standard setting organisations that it would license its technology on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. In spite of this and in breach of competition law, Qualcomm is charging excessive and disproportionate royalties. This means ultimately that consumers may have to pay more than they should for their mobile handsets."
"Qualcomm's anti-competitive licensing practices and excessive royalties are restricting innovation and the development of 3G mobile telephony to the detriment of consumer choice," added Botaro Hirosaki, senior vice president, NEC.
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