South Korea, EU to cooperate on Qualcomm investigations

South Korea and the European Union will cooperate in their ongoing investigations on US chip giant Qualcomm's alleged abuse of standard essential patents.

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) and the European Commission (EC) will mutually share their current progress in their respective investigations of United States chipmaker Qualcomm, as well as share what direction they will take going forward, the FTC has said in a statement.

Both the FTC and EC are investigating whether Qualcomm has abused its standard essential patents (SEPs) by using its dominant position. Earlier this week, sources told ZDNet Korea that the FTC has already deemed the US chip giant's patent licensing practices an antitrust violation under Korean law.

Officials at the South Korean antitrust regulator met with Cecilio Madero Villarejo, deputy director-general for antitrust at the EC, on Monday. They discussed the Qualcomm case and how competitive laws should be applied in general, the FTC said. The two agreed that abuse of SEPs falls under both protection of intellectual property (IP) and antitrust laws, and needs wide cooperation amongst international authorities to tackle properly.

The FTC is concluding its investigation on Qualcomm, and is currently deciding on the appropriate penalty. The South Korean antitrust regulator believes that the San Diego-based firm abused its SEP, abused its dominant position, and didn't license them in fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

"The Qualcomm case can affect many countries globally, and we plan to cooperate with the EU and the US and other developed countries' authorities in handling the case," an FTC spokesman said.

Qualcomm collects a 5 percent royalty from clients based on the price of the handset, rather than on the chips. It has been facing increased global pressure to change this practice.

It holds a wide array of LTE and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) patents needed in 4G and 3G network and devices.

Source: ZDNet Korea (zdnet.co.kr)

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