Apple makes opening pitch to jury, says Qualcomm hurts competition

CNET | 4/16/2019 | Shara Tibken
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Apple has paid Qualcomm billions of dollars for chips and licensing, but the bill should have been much lower, one of the company's attorneys said Tuesday during opening arguments in the trial that will determine the future of Qualcomm's licensing business.

Qualcomm's no license, no chips policy -- where it wouldn't provide processors to a handset maker until the company signed a licensing agreement -- meant it effectively charged Apple twice for its patents, said Ruffin Cordell, an attorney with Fish & Richardson who's representing Apple.

Case - Fact - Qualcomm - Monopoly - Prices

"This case is about the fact that Qualcomm has used its set unfair prices and stifle competition and dictate terms to some of the biggest, most powerful companies in the world, that rational companies would never agree to in a million years," he said Tuesday during opening arguments.

Monday marked the start of the five-week, $27 billion trial that'll determine whether Qualcomm operates a smartphone modem chip monopoly and charges too much in licensing fees. The jury trial is being argued before US District Court Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of the Southern District of California in San Diego. The outcome could affect what wireless networks your phone taps into.

Apple - Qualcomm - Practices - Chip - Prices

Apple has accused Qualcomm of anticompetitive practices that've raised chip prices, restricted competition and hurt customer choice. Qualcomm has countered that the iPhone wouldn't be possible without its technology, and it deserves to be paid for its innovation.

Qualcomm engaged in four anticompetitive acts, Cordell said Tuesday. It had a policy of not licensing patents to competitors, which he said broke Qualcomm's vow to the standards body. Qualcomm's no license, no chips strategy makes customers pay twice, Cordell said, while its exclusivity agreements locked out competition. Qualcomm's agreements with companies also included obstruction/gag clauses that reinforced Qualcomm's "illegal scheme."

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