Qualcomm faces EU charges

Margrethe Vestager, European CommissionUS giant Qualcomm has been charged with antitrust offences by the European Union.

The EU alleges that Qualcomm used its size to push out rivals for its chipsets. It’s also alleged that Qualcomm paid one of its bigger customers for using only its chipsets, as well as selling chipsets below cost price.

EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement: “Many consumers enjoy high-speed internet on smartphones and other devices – baseband chipsets are key components that make this happen. I am concerned that Qualcomm’s actions may have pushed out competitors or prevented them from competing. We need to make sure that European consumers continue to benefit from competition and innovation in an area which is at the heart of today’s economy.”

The commissioner has sent two “statements of objections” to Qualcomm’s business practices.

In a statement, the EU said that dominant companies have a responsibility not to abuse their powerful market position by restricting competition.

The statements of objection are the first stage in a lengthy process. Qualcomm can reply to the allegations within three months on the alleged exclusivity payment, and four months to respond to the “predatory pricing” charge.

If the charges are proved, Qualcomm will have to pay the EU a hefty fine.