Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Qualcomm’s Twenty-Year Shakedown

Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica:

Last week, a California federal judge provided the FTC and Apple with sweet vindication. In a scathing 233-page opinion [PDF], Judge Lucy Koh ruled that Qualcomm’s aggressive licensing tactics had violated American antitrust law.

I read every word of Judge Koh’s book-length opinion, which portrays Qualcomm as a ruthless monopolist. The legal document outlines a nearly 20-year history of overcharging smartphone makers for cellular chips. Qualcomm structured its contracts with smartphone makers in ways that made it almost impossible for other chipmakers to challenge Qualcomm’s dominance. Customers who didn’t go along with Qualcomm’s one-sided terms were threatened with an abrupt and crippling loss of access to modem chips.

Daniel Nazer:

Good piece. You [left] out the part where Judge Koh says that she didn’t credit any of the Qualcomm witness testimony because it was not consistent with the contemporaneous documents (i.e. they were all a pack of liars).

Unsurprisingly, Qualcomm disagrees with Judge Koh’s opinion.

This is just a devastating read of the extortionate terms by which Qualcomm operated its FRAND patent portfolio. If this decision withstands Qualcomm’s appeal, it will basically birth a real market for competing cellular chipsets.