FTC Charges Qualcomm With Monopolizing Key Semiconductor Device Used in Cell Phones – Federal Trade Commission (Jan 17, 2017)
The link below is to the FTC’s official statement on this action. This isn’t the first time Qualcomm has been accused by authorities of anticompetitive practices, but it’s been possible to dismiss the Chinese action as the action of a country trying to keep a foreign competitor in check. That obviously isn’t the case here, with the FTC taking aim at a home-grown company. The allegations are serious – that Qualcomm illegally ties licensing and chip purchases, that it refuses to license so-called FRAND patents on reasonable terms to competitors, and that it forced Apple into an exclusive arrangement that squeezed out competitors. This won’t be easily dismissed, and the stock price took a quick tumble by about 4% late in the session, though it’s relatively stable after hours so far. Qualcomm has dominated portions of its key markets, but if some of the strategies it’s used to achieve that dominance are undone by regulators, things might open up in interesting ways to competitors.