Friday, 18 January, 2019

Qualcomm must license its chip tech to competitors, judge rules

Ginger Lawrence | 07 November, 2018, 19:09

"Undisputed evidence in Qualcomm's own documents demonstrates that a modem chip is a core component of the cellular handset, which only underscores how a [standard essential patent] license to supply modem chips is for the objective of practicing or implementing cellular standards and why Qualcomm can not discriminate against modem chip suppliers", Koh wrote, as reported by sister site CNET. The ruling is just a preliminary one and it's only a small part of a large scope lawsuit against Qualcomm filed by the Federal Trade Commission in 2017.

The court's ruling should not be surprising, considering what FRAND patents mean. However, for a standard to be defined, one of those technologies needs to be chosen.

The issue is that the companies that haven't been working on the technology that is proposed to be used as standard and don't have any patents for it could object to adopting it as a standard.

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Qualcomm must license its technology to competitors, such as Intel, according to a recent U.S. Federal Judge ruling.

Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said that Qualcomm must license "some patents" to rival chip-makers.

This requires Qualcomm to open up some of its portfolio of essential patents to rival companies such as Intel. Apple is also suing Qualcomm over the same issue. And that, of course, is good for competition and the end consumer. 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. 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.