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Qualcomm back in the EU's sights

UK company calls foul

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A UK chip maker has asked the EU to look again at Qualcomm's business practices, despite the chip giant having cleared itself last time by settling with the complainants.

The accusations are the same – that Qualcomm gave a discount to customers who became exclusive; buying all their chips from Qualcomm. But while last time Nokia and Broadcom were amongst those complaining, this time it's a UK company called Icera, who might not find Qualcomm so willing to pay it off.

The investigation prompted by the Nokia/Broadcom complaints lasted four years, though it never reached a conclusion as both companies withdrew their complaints as part of negotiated deals relating to patent licences and other legal spats. When Broadcom withdrew its complaint in April last year the EU dropped the matter, without reaching any conclusion.

Not that such a reality stopped Qualcomm telling the FT: “We do note, however, the similarity between Icera's allegations and those in complaints made previously to the EU, which apparently failed to persuade the Commission and were ultimately withdrawn.”

In the incestuous world of wireless technology Icera is also a Qualcomm licensee, so presumably a deal can be worked out if the EU decides to take the investigation further.

Right now it's very early days, and Icera declined to provide us with a copy of the complaint so we'll have to wait and see if the EU is as responsive to a small British company as it was to two giant global corporations. ®

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