Four Apple contractors accuse Qualcomm of antitrust violations

Qualcomm is coming under fire from all angles. Left facing a daily fine of €580,000 after losing an appeal in the EU courts, Qualcomm has now been accused of antitrust violations by four Apple contractors. Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry, Wistron Corp, Compal Electronics and Pegatron Corp have all alleged that Qualcomm violated two sections of US antitrust law, the Sherman Act.

All accusations have been filed with the US district court in California as counterclaims to a Qualcomm lawsuit filed by Qualcomm seeking to force contractors to pay them licence fees that Apple forbid the contractors from paying.

"Qualcomm has confirmed publicly that this lawsuit against our clients is intended to make a point about Apple and punish our clients for working with Apple," Theodore J. Boutrous, a lawyer for the four companies, said in a statement. "The companies are bringing their own claims and defenses against Qualcomm."

This is just the latest chapter in the ongoing battle between Qualcomm and Apple. It started in January when Apple sued the chipmaker for withholding nearly $1 billion of patent licence rebates that it owed Apple. As a consequence Apple instructed all contractors to withhold licence payments to Qualcomm while the dispute was resolved. Instead of settling with Apple, Qualcomm took the decision to countersue in May, prompting the latest lawsuits.

"Despite Apple’s claims against Qualcomm, Apple suppliers remain contractually obligated to pay royalties to Qualcomm under their license agreements with us, including for sales of iPhones to Apple," Qualcomm President Derek Aberle said.

Earlier this week, Qualcomm lost its appeal against a €580,000 daily fine handed down by the EU. The US chipmaker now must hand over the documents demanded by the antitrust regulators or face racking up an enormous fine.

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