Qualcomm Wins Appeal Against $1 Bln EU Antitrust Fine

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Chipmaker Qualcomm (QCOM) on Wednesday won an appeal against a 997 million euro ($1.05 billion) fine imposed by EU antitrust regulators four years ago over anti-competitive practices.

The General Court, Europe's second-highest court, passed a verdict in favor of Qualcomm, after the company appealed against the hefty fine. In 2018, the European Commission alleged Qualcomm had paid billions of dollars to Apple from 2011 to 2016 to use its chips exclusively in all iPhones and iPads, thus taking rival Intel Corp. out of the frame.

The fine imposed on Qualcomm was one of the several ones charged by EU Antitrust Chief Margrethe Vestager against big tech companies, including Alphabet's Google. The regulator is also investigating Apple, Amazon and Facebook over anti-competitive practices.

"A number of procedural irregularities affected Qualcomm's rights of defence and invalidate the Commission's analysis of the conduct alleged against Qualcomm," the judges said.

"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 obtain supplies of LTE chipsets for certain iPad models to be launched in 2014 and 2015," they said.

The regulator can now appeal to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe's highest court, regarding the issue.

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