U.S. Justice Department seeks intervention in Qualcomm antitrust case

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested an additional hearing should a California judge find San Diego-based chipmaker Qualcomm engaged in monopolistic trade practices in its ongoing case against the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

“In the event that the court finds liability on any of the FTC’s claims, the court should order additional briefing and hold a hearing on issues related to a remedy,” said the DOJ in a statement of interest obtained by CNET.

The DOJ cited reduced 5G competition as the reason behind its request.

“There is a plausible prospect that an overly broad remedy in this case could reduce competition and innovation in markets for 5G technology and downstream applications that rely on that technology,” the DOJ said. “Such an outcome could exceed the appropriate scope of an equitable antitrust remedy. Moreover, it has the distinct potential to harm rather than help competition.”

The FTC and Qualcomm went to trial on January 4th, 2019. The former accused Qualcomm of taking advantage of a monopoly in mobile chipsets and modems to extract excessive licensing fees from the chipmaker’s customers. Many of the arguments advanced by lawyers from the FTC echoed ones made by Apple’s lawyers in the case the company recently settled with Qualcomm. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has yet to reach a decision on the case.

This isn’t the first time the U.S. government has acted paternalistically toward Qualcomm.

Just last year, citing national security concerns, U.S. President Donald Trump intervened in Broadcom’s $117 billion USD bid to merge with Qualcomm. Then, as it does now, the U.S. sees Qualcomm as critical to maintaining an edge over China in the 5G technology race.

Source: CNET