Back in 2018, Qualcomm was fined €1 billion by an EU antitrust regulator for trying to gain an unfair advantage over competitors. The American chipmaker was accused of bribing Apple to keep using Qualcomm modems instead of rival hardware from Intel during the 2011-2016 period.
Naturally, Qualcomm appealed the fine and the European General Court (EGC) has now called it off, reports Reuters. Here is what the court hearing says:
By today’s judgment, the General Court annuls, in its entirety, the Commission decision. The General Court bases it on, first, the finding of a number of procedural irregularities which affected Qualcomm’s rights of defense, and, second, an analysis of the anticompetitive effects of the incentive payments.
The press release also says that while Qualcomm’s payments to Apple did reduce the company’s incentives to switch to other suppliers, Apple had no technical alternatives for Qualcomm’s LTE chipsets that were required for iPhones.
The Commission has the option to appeal to the EGC, but it wants to consider the implications of the court rulings carefully first.
EGC, which is the second-highest court in the European Union, has previously annulled a similar fine on Intel-based on anti-competitive practices. The €1.06 billion fine was dismissed altogether in January 2022.