Qualcomm withdraws 1 trillion fine for ‘patent abuse’ … Why Samsung can’t just smile

Today’s Money Reporter Kim Seung-han | 2023.04.16 07:14

Citizens walk in front of a building in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, where the headquarters of Qualcomm Korea is located. 2019.12.4/News1 ⓒ News Reporter1 Min Kyung-seok

Qualcomm, which forced mobile phone manufacturers to make unfair contracts with so-called ‘patent abuse’, was fined 1 trillion won. Samsung Electronics and Intel damaged spare no words. This is because Qualcomm is the largest customer and partner. Qualcomm is in a position of “humble acceptance”, but some believe that it is difficult to eliminate Qualcomm’s abuse of power.

On the 13th, the 3rd division of the Supreme Court (Presiding Judge Noh Jeong-hee) affirmed the lower court’s ruling in partial favor on the sentencing date of the cancellation claim, including a correction order filed by Qualcomm against the Fair Trade Commission. , and ordered the imposition of a penalty of 1.311 trillion won.

Qualcomm alone owns mobile communication SEPs (Standard Essential Patents), which are essential for making mobile phones. He made a FRAND commitment to provide SEP to business operators without discrimination and was recognized as a SEP holder. However, when chipset companies such as Samsung and Intel requested contract collection, the actual use of patent rights was limited, such as disclaimer or vendor restrictions. The Fair Trading Commission considered that such an act was in fact an ‘abuse of power’ and a monopolization of patent rights.

The extent of the damage suffered by Samsung Electronics, Intel, and LG Electronics from this incident has not been confirmed. However, in the industry, it is estimated that the size of the fine will be greater than Qualcomm. An industry insider said, “This Qualcomm incident has been going on since 2008, and considering the timing and extent of the business relationship with Samsung Electronics, etc., the amount of damage to the companies will be more than ( Qualcomm penalty).

The court sided with the FTC and the incident ended, but the companies that suffered damage can’t help but laugh. It’s an atmosphere of worrying if there will be sparks. Samsung Electronics and Intel said, “I have nothing to say.”

In particular, Qualcomm is one of the biggest customers and partners of Samsung Electronics. We continue omnidirectional cooperation in the semiconductor and smartphone sectors. The joint work of Samsung and Qualcomm ‘Snapdragon 2 Generation for Galaxy’ installed on Galaxy S23 is a representative case. This is the first time Qualcomm has offered a specific manufacturer-specific chipset. This is the part where you can see the strong relationship between the two companies. Qualcomm is also Samsung’s largest customer in the foundry sector. In February, it also formed a blood alliance with Qualcomm and Google to launch XR (augmented reality) devices.

Intel, too, cannot be completely free of Qualcomm. Intel, which will re-enter the foundry market in 2021, has Qualcomm as its customer. Although there are concerns from these companies, Qualcomm has made it clear that it will continue to maintain good relations with its partners. In a statement on the same day, Qualcomm emphasized, “We humbly accept the ruling of the Korean court and will continue to maintain commercial relationships with our Korean partners and companies.”

On the other hand, Korea is not the first case of exaggerated charges from Qualcomm. In 2015, Qualcomm paid a fine of $975 million (about 1.3 trillion won) to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) under China’s State Council for violating antitrust laws. Regarding this, an industry insider said, “In light of such cases in the past, we cannot guarantee that Qualcomm will not take advantage of power abuse again.” “he said.

[저작권자 @머니투데이, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]