European Commission puts Qualcomm under antitrust investigation

Qualcomm is in a bit of hot water today as the giant chip maker has found itself under an antitrust investigation from the European authorities.

Qualcomm is the world’s largest chip seller for mobile phones and tablets, and as such, there is concern that the company may have abused its leading market position to minimize competition and indirectly hurt consumers.

The European Commission is launching two investigation into Qualcomm’s practices, trying to ascertain whether the company offered financial discounts to buyers that exclusively purchased baseband chips from them. The second investigation will focus on whether Qualcomm sold products at a loss in an effort to push rivals out of the market.

As Politico points out, this isn’t the first time that the company has crossed paths with the European Commission’s antitrust investigators. Back in 2009, the Commission closed an investigation without any charges that was looking at whether Qualcomm had been unfairly charging for patents.

This time, the complaint came from a subsidiary of Nvidia, which filed paperwork with the European regulators last year. Still, as Qualcomm said in a statement, this isn’t a formal accusation, just an investigation:

This step allows investigators to gather additional facts, but it represents neither an expression by the Commission on the merits of the case nor an accusation against the company. While we were disappointed to hear this, we have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with the Commission, and we continue to believe that any concerns are without merit.

If the company is found to be infringing EU laws and abusing its power, it could end up paying hefty fines. However, that is a long way away as these investigations tend to stretch out over years and are usually settled beforehand.

Source: European Commission via: Politico EU

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