Federal judge denies Qualcomm request to stay antitrust case ruling

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SAN DIEGO — A federal judge Wednesday denied Qualcomm’s request to halt sanctions stemming from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust lawsuit against the San Diego-based cellular technology company.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh sided with the FTC in May, finding that Qualcomm forced cellphone companies to accept excessive fees for the ability to use Qualcomm patents, and would threaten to withhold access to its chips if companies did not agree to its terms.

Koh ordered Qualcomm to renegotiate license terms with its customers and refrain from any threats to withhold chips from future agreements, an order that Qualcomm requested be delayed pending its appeal of the case.

A Qualcomm representative said the company will be seeking a stay of Koh’s decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The FTC brought the case in 2017, in which it accused Qualcomm of operating as a monopoly that “engaged in exclusionary conduct that taxes its competitors’ baseband processor sales, reduces competitors’ ability and incentive to innovate, and raises prices paid by consumers for cell phones and tablets.”

In another federal case brought against Qualcomm by Apple, the two companies reached a settlement in the form of a six-year licensing agreement as a trial was getting underway in San Diego federal court earlier this year.

In that case, Apple accused Qualcomm of using its powerful position in the industry to charge cellphone makers exorbitant fees to license its patents. Qualcomm, in turn, accused Apple of breaching its licensing agreements to use Qualcomm’s intellectual property by refusing to pay billions in fairly charged royalties.

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