Back in 2018, the EU antitrust authority fined Qualcomm DKK 1 billion. EUR and accused it of paying Apple to use Qualcomm modem instead of switching to competitors like Intel in the period from 2011 to 2016. The company of course appealed the fine and the European Court of Justice (EGC) annulled the fine, reports Reuters.
“In its judgment of the day, the Court of First Instance annuls the Commission’s decision in its entirety. ruled the EGC, which is the second highest court in the EU.
Things get more interesting further down in Press release (note: PDF): “… The Court notes that, although the Commission concluded that the incentive payments had reduced Apple’s incentives to switch to competing suppliers to purchase LTE chipsets, the Commission’s decision states that Apple had no technical alternative to Qualcomm’s LTE chipsets for the majority of its claims during the period in question, namely the part essentially equivalent to iPhones. “
The Commission has the opportunity to appeal to the European Court of Justice, but it first wants to carefully consider the consequences of the EGC ruling.
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager brought the case against Qualcomm (image credit)
There was a similar lawsuit filed in the United States by the Federal Trade Commission. Initially, the FTC won, but the decision was overturned, and eventually Qualcomm and Apple ruled out of court.
Earlier this year, the Court annulled a similar fine of € 1.06 billion to Intel, which was accused of anti-competitive practices. The original fine was imposed in 2009, then in 2014 the EU lower court rejected Intel’s appeal, but then the Court overturned this decision in 2017, until it finally annulled the fine completely at the end of January 2022.