Taiwanese authorities have imposed a record fine of nearly USD 800 million on Qualcomm for anti-trust violations in the latest of a string of setbacks for the US computer chip giant. Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission slapped the company with a fine of TWD 23.4 billion (USD 774 million) for harming market competition and manipulating prices following an investigation launched in 2015. “Qualcomm’s illegal actions have seriously affected the (market) competition… to ensure, maintain or enhance its dominance in the market,” the commission said in a statement yesterday. According to the commission, Qualcomm had violated fair trade rules for at least seven years by refusing to offer licenses that are essential for manufacturing chipsets to rival manufacturers and had imposed unfair contracts on smartphone makers.
Qualcomm earned more than USD 13.33 billion in royalty fees and USD 30 billion in baseband chip sales to local companies during that period, it added. The world’s biggest handset chip supplier said today it would appeal the fine. “Qualcomm disagrees with the decision… and intends to seek to stay any required behavioural measures and appeal the decision to the Taiwanese courts,” the company said in a statement. Last year, Qualcomm was hit with a record fine exceeding USD 850 million by South Korea’s anti-trust watchdog for abusing its dominant market position as a maker of baseband chipsets used in mobile phones.
It was also fined nearly USD 1 billion by Chinese anti- trust authorities in 2015 for violation of competition rules. In the United States, Qualcomm is locked in contentious patent battles with fellow tech giant Apple, which filed a lawsuit in January this year, accusing the chip maker of abusing its market power to demand unfair royalties. Apple has also joined efforts in other countries where Qualcomm faces probes from anti-trust authorities.
Qualcomm in turn has sued Apple for allegedly using the chip maker’s technology without paying for it.