Korean trade regulators have raided the local offices of US mobile phone chip developer Qualcomm, and Korean phone makers Samsung, LG Electronics and Pantech Curitel, in an apparent antitrust inquiry.
The action follows complaints from a local software developer that Qualcomm unfairly abused its dominance in the telecoms chip market to cut competitors out of the mobile video software market, local media reported.
Officials from the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) swooped unannounced on Qualcomm's Seoul office on Wednesday afternoon, examining files on sales department PCs and demanding that sales staff return to the office for questioning, Korea's Electronic Times reported.
Qualcomm developed and patented a significant proportion of the core technology used in the mobile phone industry which it licenses to phone makers.
The company, which earned $2.1bn in South Korea last year, confirmed that the raids took place and that they appeared to be related to a complaint filed by a small local company.
"The KFTC advised that the inquiry was not an official investigation but declined to provide an explanation of the reason for the inquiry or its focus," Qualcomm stated.
The head of the KFTC's anti-monopoly team told Korea's Electronic Times: "We suspect that Qualcomm may have abused its market-dominating power. We cannot comment on any details of the ongoing investigation."
Qualcomm president Steve Altman said in a statement to the media: "Qualcomm's business practices are lawful and pro-competitive. "
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