U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm has won its battle against a $1.05 billion fine imposed by EU antitrust regulators. In 2018, the European Commission fined Qualcomm after concluding that the company paid billions of dollars to Apple between 2011 and 2016 to ensure that only its chips are used in Apple’s iPhones and iPads.
In its judgment, the General Court, Europe’s second highest court, annulled the EU’s findings and reprimanded the EU’s competition enforcer over the handling of the case.
“A number of procedural irregularities affected Qualcomm’s rights of defence and invalidate the Commission’s analysis of the conduct alleged against Qualcomm. The Commission did not provide an analysis which makes it possible to support the findings that the payments concerned had actually reduced Apple’s incentives to switch to Qualcomm’s competitors in order to get supplies of LTE chipsets for certain iPad models to be launched in 2014 and 2015,” the judges said.
The fight is not over, however, as EU competition enforcer can appeal to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), the highest court in Europe. The Commission indicated that a careful analysis of the ruling and its implications will be carried out and that it will analyze the next steps.