US chipmaker Qualcomm has returned to Europe’s second highest court seeking to overturn a €242 million (A$390 million) EU antitrust fine, a year after it convinced the same court to overturn a sanction. much higher in another antitrust case.
The European Commission fined Qualcomm in 2019 for selling its chipsets below cost between 2009 and 2011, in a practice known as predatory pricing, to hamper British phone software maker Icera, now part of Nvidia.
Last year, the company scored a major victory by convincing the General Court to overturn a €997 million EU antitrust fine in another case involving payments made to Apple to use only its chips in all its iPhones and iPads. in order to block rivals such as Intel.
Qualcomm’s lawyer, Miguel Rato, criticized the Commission’s investigations against the company on the first day of the three-day hearing.
“This is the second installment of the Commission’s campaign against Qualcomm. The first was the exclusivity decision crushed by the Court,” he told the General Court.
It said the 3G baseband chipsets cited in the case accounted for just 0.7 percent of the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) market and therefore it was not possible for Qualcomm to exclude its rivals from the market. of chipsets.
“What price should Qualcomm have charged for each chipset and each quarter to allow it to pass the cost-of-price test?” said Rat.
Qualcomm’s actions showed it was determined to eliminate a rival before it could pose a competitive threat, the Commission’s attorney, Carlos Urraca Caviedes, told the court.
“Icera was on the verge of gaining a strong position in the market segment that was strategically important for future growth. Qualcomm feared that if it didn’t take action, Icera would grow to expand and become a formidable rival,” he said.
The court will rule in the coming months.