Qualcomm forced to license modem chip tech to rivals

Lloyd Doyle
November 7, 2018

The latter issued a mandate to the semiconductor maker to license out its modem chip patents to rival chipmakers.

Each industry player may have a preferred technology that they're developing and can also have multiple patents for that technology. However, for a standard to be defined, one of those technologies needs to be chosen.

The commission argued that Qualcomm had voluntarily committed to the FRAND (free and non-discriminatory) licensing requirements of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATUS), and those agreements required it to offer licences to competitors where patents covered standards-essential technology. It appears that Qualcomm might be forced to share some of its patents, according to a recent federal court ruling reported by the Verge. This is roughly what Qualcomm is doing with modems, allowing companies to use its technologies if they agree with its terms (usually that means buying Qualcomm chips) or pay expensive licensing fees. Not doing that would allow Qualcomm "to achieve a monopoly in the modem chip market and limit competing implementations of those components." the court explained.

Whether the ruling will directly affect Qualcomm's success in flogging modem chips has yet to be seen, given the likes of Intel have their own wireless comms tech.

Opening up the patent is also a source of good news to companies like Apple and Samsung. In its lawsuit, FTC accused Qualcomm of overcharging customers, such as Apple, for its patents.

This court case is running parallel to a legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple. And the ruling's impact should be even more positive for shoppers if the court eventually rules that Qualcomm should charge reasonable rates for those modem patents.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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