Judge Koh has filed her ruling on the FTC antitrust suit against Qualcomm, and it comprehensively concludes that Qualcomm business practices were anticompetitive as reported by FOSSPatents.
Qualcomm has been ordered to renegotiate existing licensing terms such that its supply of modem chips is wholly separate to any patent licensing agreement. It cannot enter exclusivity supply agreements and it must license standards-essential patents at fair and reasonable rates.
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Qualcomm will almost certainly appeal the decision but Florian Mueller of FOSSPatents believes the company has little wiggle-room to push back.
The decision comes only a month after Apple and Qualcomm settled their legal battles out of court, with a six-year licensing agreement and a multi-year chip supply deal. Apple is believed to have been pushed into settling to secure 5G modem parts for the 2020 iPhone.
It’s unclear if Apple or Qualcomm had an inkling of the FTC antitrust judgement when the deal was made, which would have affected each company’s negotiating position.
Although right now Qualcomm is the leading option for 5G mobile modems, when more manufacturers come onboard in the next few years, the injunctive remedies imposed by the judge in this case will help create a fairer playing field and sustain a more competitive market in the modem space.
Apple is widely believed to be working on its own in-house custom modems, although the project is still in the early stages and it could take up for 5 years for an Apple modem to make its way into an iPhone.
The full 233 page text of today’s ruling can be found here.