Last year, the FTC filed suit against Qualcomm for its patent licensing, alleging that the company wasn't giving competitors fair terms for standards-essential patents owned by the company. In what will likely prove to be a benefit to companies and consumers alike, yesterday the judge in the suit granted a motion for partial summary judgment, requiring that Qualcomm license those standards-essential patents to other chipset manufacturers under reasonable terms.
Previously, the FTC alleged that Qualcomm was refusing to license its patents to some competitors, coercing others into non-FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) terms, and forcing some like Apple into exclusivity agreements. Those patents cover standards for cellular technology developed by multiple companies, and they were only ever accepted by those companies into standardized specifications based on that expectation of FRAND licensing.
With this judgment, companies like Intel, Apple, and other chipset vendors should finally be able to secure reasonable licensing terms for Qualcomm's standards-essential IP, which could mean a return of things like Samsung's Exynos chips to phones in the US. As noted in our previous coverage, Qualcomm was previously alleged to require OEMs like Samsung to purchase its chips to secure the necessary licenses for its own silicon, while others like Intel couldn't gain access to some standards-required licenses under reasonable terms at all.
This isn't necessarily the end of the suit, the FTC leveled further anti-competitive allegations that the court has yet to rule on, but it is a good first step towards proper competition in the US market, which has sadly been functionally dominated by a Qualcomm monopoly — likely and in no small part due to the company's anti-competitive licensing behavior.
The full judgment can be read just below.
18-11-06 Order Granting Par... by on Scribd