A European court ruled that Qualcomm did not bribe Apple for iPhone modem exclusivity at Intel’s cost

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A number of procedural irregularities affected Qualcomm’s rights of defence and invalidate the Commission’s analysis of the conduct alleged against Qualcomm. The Commission did not provide an analysis which makes it possible to support the findings that the payments concerned had actually reduced Apple’s incentives to switch to Qualcomm’s competitors in order to obtain supplies of LTE chipsets for certain iPad models to be launched in 2014 and 2015. The Court’s decision may put a monkey wrench in the European Commission’s (EC) crusade against Big Tech and the multibillion fines it has been imposing on the likes of Apple or Google for a good while now.

Against all odds, and given how aggressive European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has been in her assault on various Big Tech scams, Qualcomm has avoided a $1 billion punishment over allegations that it illegally induced Apple to use Qualcomm’s LTE modems at the cost of Intel. Qualcomm would not only be exempt from paying the fee, but the European General Court also overturned the $1 billion fine imposed by EU antitrust officials on Qualcomm on Wednesday, citing the following arguments:

Highlights

  • Qualcomm is not out of the woods just yet, as the EU’s antitrust regulator can still appeal to the next and final EU Court of Justice step, though they’d be unlikely to entirely overturn the lower court’s findings provided that there have been a number of procedural missteps by the EC.

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