Qualcomm records big win as EU can’t appeal court ruling against $991 million fine

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Qualcomm has scored a major victory against EU antitrust regulators. Experts familiar with the matter expect the EU antitrust regulator not to appeal the court’s decision that overturned the EUR 997 million (roughly Rs 8,000 crore) fine against the US chip makers. The judgment was handed down by the Luxembourg-based General Court, the second-highest in Europe. It said that procedural irregularities in the European Commission’s handling of the case negatively affected Qualcomm’s defense rights. Furthermore, the judge dismissed the Commission’s claims that Qualcomm’s payments to Apple were anti-competitive.

According to Reuters, EU antitrust regulators did not consider all relevant facts regarding Qualcomm’s payments to Apple. People familiar with the matter believe the EU competition watchdog will find it difficult to win the appeal on either count.

In a 2018 ruling, the EU watchdog accused Qualcomm of paying billions of dollars to Apple from 2011 to 2016. Qualcomm claimed the payments were made to fend off rival chip makers like Intel and to ensure the Cupertino company used the chips in iPhones and iPads.

In recent times, EU regulators seem to be cracking down on Big Tech. EU antitrust chief Margaret Vestager has imposed billion-euro fines on industry giants such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Meta.

Earlier this month, EU antitrust regulators were also reported to be planning to question app developers about payment-related information on the Google Play Store. Regulators wanted details on whether Alphabet unit Google has threatened to remove apps from its Play Store if other payment options are used.

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