FTC Charges Qualcomm With Anticompetitive Practices

The Federal Trade Commission has charged San Diego-based Qualcomm with using anticompetitive tactics to maintain its monopoly in baseband processors used in cell phones, the FTC announced on Tuesday, specifically citing Qualcomm's licensing behavior with Apple. According to the FTC, Qualcomm has used its dominant position as a supplier of baseband processors to impose "onerous and anticompetitive" supply and licensing terms on cell phone manufacturers. The FTC also charged that Qualcomm had threatened to disrupt supplies of baseband processors to cell phone manufacturers without being paid "elevated" royalties, which the FTC said "harms competition". The FTC also specifically cited a deal with Apple, where licensing terms precluded Apple from sourcing broadband processors from Qualcomm's competitors between 2011 to 2016. Qualcomm, for its part, said it will "vigorously contest" the complaint and defend its business practices, saying the FTC charge is based on "flawed legal theory".