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Qualcomm gets support from Justice Department, others in antitrust appeal

Mike Freeman, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

The U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies have weighed in to support Qualcomm's efforts to put antitrust sanctions on hold pending appeal, claiming immediately imposing the stiff requirements could harm national security.

In a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals, the Department of Justice said it had an interest in the case, in part, because Qualcomm is a key supplier to federal government agencies that safeguard national security, including the Department of Defense and Department of Energy.

"Immediate implementation of the remedy would put our nation's security at risk, potentially undermining U.S. leadership in 5G technology and standard setting, which is vital to military readiness and other critical national interests," the Justice Department argued.

Officials from both the Defense and Energy departments submitted accompanying statements outlining their national security concerns.

Qualcomm is appealing U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh's ruling in May that the San Diego company violated anti-monopoly laws with strong-arm tactics that forced smartphone makers to overpay for patent licenses.

Koh imposed sweeping remedies on Qualcomm that threaten to upend the way it and other firms in the cellular industry license patents, essentially forcing them into chip-level licensing.

 

Today, Qualcomm, as well as other firms that develop cellular technology, license their standard essential patents based on the price of the entire smartphone.

Qualcomm is asking the Ninth Circuit to pause Koh's requirements while it appeals.

Earlier this week, network equipment maker Ericsson, which also licenses cellular patents, filed a brief in support of Qualcomm's request to stay Koh's order.

Chip-level licensing could significantly reduce Qualcomm's revenue from patents, which is a key driver of its research and development efforts on 5G.

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