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Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) unlawfully suppressed competition in the market for cellphone chips and used its dominant position to impose excessive licensing fees, a U.S. judged ruled, sending the company's shares spiraling down in Wednesday trade.
Qualcomm's operating segment relating to its chip and software business is called Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT). Qualcomm's operating segment relating to the licensing of its patents is called Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL).
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh sided with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which in 2017 filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm, accusing the company of using "anti-competitive" tactics to maintain its monopoly on a key semiconductor used in mobile phones.
In its complaint, the FTC said the patents that Qualcomm sought to license are standard essential patents, which means that the industry uses them widely and they are supposed to be licensed on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
The FTC complaint also accused Qualcomm of refusing to license some standard essential patents to rival chipmakers, and of entering into an exclusive deal with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).
Qualcomm's licensing practices have been the subject of government investigations in the U.S. since at least 2014 and in Asia and Europe since at least 2009, according to the court filing.
On Wednesday, the Qualcomm Technologies subsidiary and EE announced the arrival of commercial 5G services in the UK with the launch of EE's 5G network and availability of premium 5G devices based on the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform with Snapdragon X50 5G Modem and Qualcomm Technologies' RF Front-End (RFFE) solutions.
Shares tumbled $8.59, or 11.1%, to $69.16 in soon after the opening bell on Wednesday.