Taiwan's fair trade authority, Qualcomm settle antitrust dispute

2018/08/10 14:24:15 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has reached a settlement with smartphone chip designer Qualcomm Inc. on an antitrust dispute that prompted the regulator to slap a NT$23.4 billion (US$763 million) fine on the American company last year.

The settlement was achieved at an Intellectual Property Court collegiate bench, the FTC announced at a press briefing Friday.

It marks the first time since the FTC was founded as a Cabinet organ in 1991 that it has settled a legal dispute with a targeted company. The fine is also the biggest the FTC has levied on a single company in its history.

Under the settlement, Qualcomm has agreed to drop its claim concerning a NT$2.73 billion fine it has already paid, while the FTC accepts the company's commitments, including one to undertake fair negotiations on licensing with local mobile phone makers and chip suppliers.

The commission also accepts that Qualcomm will launch a five-year industrial investment project in Taiwan, according to a statement published on the FTC website.

On Oct. 11, 2017 the fair trade regulator imposed a fine of NT$23.4 billion on Qualcomm after a two-year investigation into allegations of antitrust violations relating to the company's patents on mobile phone standards.

In its ruling the FTC said Qualcomm had monopoly market status over key mobile phone standards and was violating local laws by not providing products to clients who didn't agree with its conditions.

Besides the fine, which was later approved to be paid in installments, the commission told Qualcomm at the time to remove previously signed deals that forced competitors to provide price, customer names, shipments, model names and other sensitive information.

Qualcomm then appealed to the Intellectual Property Court, seeking a halt to the punishment's implementation while filing administrative litigation.

On Friday, Qualcomm also announced the judicial settlement, thanks to which, it said in a statement, its litigation filed in the Taiwan court is closed.

"As part of the resolution, Qualcomm has agreed to certain process-related commitments confirming principles of mutual good-faith and fairness in the negotiation of agreements with handset licensees to Qualcomm's cellular standard essential patents (SEPs)," the statement said.

Qualcomm said the settlement does not require component-level licensing or set specific financial terms. Instead "it is focused on commitments that ensure good-faith negotiations for the benefit of licensees and SEP owners."

In addition, Qualcomm will drive certain commercial initiatives in Taiwan over the next five years for the benefit of the mobile and semiconductor ecosystem, SMEs and consumers, including 5G collaborations, new market expansion, start-up and university collaborations and the development of a Taiwanese center for operations and manufacturing engineering, the company said.

(By Chang Chien-chung and Elizabeth Hsu)

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