The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has abandoned its antitrust case against Qualcomm, despite believing the company is guilty.
Qualcomm has faced long-standing accusations of antitrust behavior, leading to multiple lawsuits. Apple famously engaged in a years-long court battle, before ultimately settling with the company. IBM similarly tried to enter the cellular modem market, before ultimately selling its modem business to Apple, citing what it believed was unfair competition from Qualcomm.
In the initial court ruling, the FTC prevailed in its case, only to have that decision reversed on appeal. The FTC was originally planning on pursuing the case before the Supreme Court, but has now dropped it.
“Given the significant headwinds facing the Commission in this matter, the FTC will not petition the Supreme Court to review the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in FTC v. Qualcomm,” said Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. “The FTC’s staff did an exceptional job presenting the case, and I continue to believe that the district court’s conclusion that Qualcomm violated the antitrust laws was entirely correct and that the court of appeals erred in concluding otherwise. Now more than ever, the FTC and other law enforcement agencies need to boldly enforce the antitrust laws to guard against abusive behavior by dominant firms, including in high-technology markets and those that involve intellectual property. I am particularly concerned about the potential for anticompetitive or unfair behavior in the context of standard setting and the FTC will closely monitor conduct in this arena.”
The announcement is good news for Qualcomm and bad news for its competitors, many of whose will face an uphill battle competing against it.