[JURIST] The EU’s Commission on Competition [official website] on Wednesday announced [official press release] a USD $1.23 billion antitrust fine against US chip maker Qualcomm [corporate website].
The commission charged Qualcomm with suppressing competition in the market for phone and table chipsets through contracts with companies such as Apple [corporate website] that contained.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said [statement]: “Qualcomm illegally shut out rivals from the market for LTE baseband chipsets for over five years, thereby cementing its market dominance.” Qualcomm paid billions to Apple, on the condition that it would not buy from rivals.
The commission initiated its investigation in 2015 and analyzed Qualcomm’s actions between 2011 and 2016. Vestager differentiated Qualcomm’s behavior from simply being the largest player in the market for chips: “[They] denied rivals the chance to compete effectively, no matter how good their products were. And that denied consumers and other companies the benefits of choice and innovation.”
Qualcomm said it would appeal [Reuters report] the Commission’s decision immediately.
European antitrust policy [official summary] is developed from two central rules set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Article 101 of the Treaty [text] prohibits agreements between two or more independent market operators which restrict competition. Second, Article 102 of the Treaty [text] prohibits firms that hold a dominant position on a given market to abuse that position.
This is the commission’s first antitrust fine since the European Court of Justice [official website] ordered a reexamination [JURIST report] of a €1.06 billion fine placed on Intel [corporate website].