SAN FRANCISCO — Regulators in Taiwan have levied a fine of roughly $774 million against Qualcomm for anti-competitive behavior, becoming the latest in a string of jurisdictions to find fault with the mobile chip giant's business practices.
Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission (TFTC) detailed the findings of its investigation into Qualcomm in a statement released Wednesday (Oct. 11), saying among other things that Qualcomm's business model harms competition and violates Taiwan's Fair Trade Act. According to a report by the Bloomberg news service, the fine is the largest ever imposed by the TFTC.
Qualcomm said in a statement that it disagrees with the decision and plans to appeal.
"The fine bears no rational relationship to the amount of Qualcomm’s revenues or activities in Taiwan, and Qualcomm will appeal the amount of the fine and the method used to calculate it," the company said.
The decision handed down Wednesday follows other similar fines levied by regulators in the U.S., China, South Korea and South Korea. China fined Qualcomm $975 million in 2015, while South Korea levied a fine of about $865 million last year.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued Qualcomm, charging the company with using anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly over chips for mobile technologies including CDMA, WCDMA and LTE. The U.S. case is still pending.
At the heart of the TFTC finding — as with those in the other jurisdictions — is a charge that Qualcomm's standards-essential patent (SEP) licensing practices do not conform to fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms required by standards bodies. The TFTC also charged that Qualcomm refuses to sell chips to customers who don't agree to its stringent conditions.
Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research, said he believes the fine may be due to Qualcomm's decision to sue Taiwanese ODMs for withholding royalty payments as part of the ongoing dispute between Qualcomm and Apple. The two firms are currently embroiled in a high profile $1 billion lawsuit that originated with a contract dispute.
"I don't see anything of substance to the [TFTC] claim," McGregor said in an email exchange with EE Times. "In fact, the request for contractual information makes it look like they don't have a case yet and are just trying to reach a conclusion."
Qualcomm said it intends to seek to stay any required behavioral measures and appeal the decision to the Taiwanese courts after receiving the TFTC’s formal decision, which is expected sometime in the next several weeks.
— Dylan McGrath is editor in chief of EE Times.