Why does it seem like The European Union seems to be doing all it can to stifle technology at the moment? First they went after Google and brought in the farcical ‘right to be forgotten.’ They issued a record $1.1 billion fine against US chip maker Intel for anti-competitive practices. Now the EU is going after huge chip maker Qualcomm in an antitrust investigation.
In fact the complaint about the anti-competitive nature of Qualcomm is four years old, made by British cell phone chipmaker Icera back in 2010. Icera is now a subsidiary of Nvidia, but wasn’t at the time as incorrectly reported by some outlets. Nvidia didn’t acquire Icera until 2011 in a deal worth US $367 million in cash.
Although not a household name, Icera is a direct competitor to Qualcomm producing model chipsets for a range of mobile devices. Icera is also a larger manufacturing partner for network branded USB mobile internet dongles. Icera also hold a number of patents relating to Adaptive Wireless chips.
During 2010 Qualcomm were already embroiled in an EU competition commission probe into the business practices of the chip maker. This probe was brought to court by the former telecom giant Ericsson and Qualcomm rival Texas Instruments. After four years of arguing and huge legal fees the case was eventually dropped.
The complaint has been taken to the European Commission over the anti-competitive nature of Qualcomm’s business practices. Reuters have reported information from a person familiar with the issue, reporting Qualcomm were “using patent-related incentives and exclusionary pricing of chipsets to discourage customers from doing business with Icera.”
It is not a good position for Qualcomm to be in given the EU’s current technology distaste. If found guilty the chip maker could be fined up to 10% of their total revenues, a figure that would surely be measured in billions.Source: Reuters