Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission fines Qualcomm $774 million

Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission has slapped smartphone chipset and modem manufacturer Qualcomm with a fine of $774 million for allegedly taking advantage of its monopoly in the industry.

The Taiwanese regulator claimed Qualcomm has monopoly market status over key mobile phone standards and by not providing products to clients who don't agree with its conditions, the US company is violating local laws.

The Chinese antitrust regulator fined Qualcomm $975 million in 2015, saying that Qualcomm abused its market position.

The penalty is the largest handed out to a single company since the Taiwanese antitrust authority was established. The commission said that the company's dominance in CDMA and LTE chips, as well as its key patent holdings for such technologies, let the company abuse its position and refuse to license necessary patents.

It'll take weeks before the court issues a final word on the matter, and according to Qualcomm, the fine that it's charged with has "no rational relationship to the amount of Qualcomm's revenues or activities in Taiwan".

The refusal by Qualcomm, the FTC said, failed to meet the requirement of European Telecommunications Standards Institute, which asked its members to license their technologies to its other market players.

The agency said Taiwanese companies had purchased $30 billion worth of Qualcomm baseband chips.

Qualcomm disagrees with the decision and intends to appeal.

It was the latest blow to Qualcomm in global antitrust probes.

Regulators in China and Korea fined Qualcomm in 2015 and 2016, respectively, for $975 million and $854 million, and USA trade officials are now suing the company.

Vanessa Coleman

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