European Commission reportedly not planning to appeal General Court decision quashing 997m euro Qualcomm fine in latest setback for Big Tech regulation
The European Commission is reportedly not planning to appeal a June court decision invalidating its 997 million euro ($997m, £851m) antitrust fine against Qualcomm, in a major win for the chip company.
The Commission fined Qualcomm in 2018 for allegedly pressuring Apple to only buy its 4G chips with a 2011 deal that offered “significant” sums and rebates for an exclusivity deal.
San Diego-based Qualcomm told the Luxembourg-based General Court last year that the Commission’s probe was “biased” and had allowed Apple to “dictate the evidence, narrative and conclusions”.
In its June decision the General Court, the EU’s second-highest, overturned the penalty, saying that “a number of procedural irregularities” in the Commission’s decision had “affected Qualcomm’s rights of defense and invalidate” its analysis of the firm’s conduct.
In addition the court invalidated the Commission’s analysis that payments made by Qualcomm to Apple were anti-competitive, saying the regulator had failed to take all the relevant facts into account.
The Commission has decided not to appeal the decision, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources as saying that it would be very difficult for the regulator to win on both the procedural and the substantive grounds.
The decision is a major blow to the EU’s efforts to crack down on big tech companies, which have included a major fine against Google, as well as probes into Amazon, Apple and Facebook parent Meta.
The Commission’s case had alleged that Qualcomm paid Apple billions from 2011 to 2016 to use only its chips and block those of rivals such as Intel.
The General Court is next expected to rule on 14 September on Google’s appeal of a record 4.34bn euro fine imposed by the Commission for allegedly using its Android mobile operating system to pressure smartphone makers and phone networks to maintain its dominant position in internet search.
In January the General Court quashed a 1.06bn euro fine imposed on Intel for allegedly anticompetitive practices, saying the Commission’s economic analysis was flawed.
Before that decision the Commission had not lost a major competition case in court for more than 20 years.