On Thursday Qualcomm lost its fight against a data demand from European Union antitrust regulators after Europe’s top court reaffirmed the regulators’ right to see it, in a case that has already landed the company a 242-million-euro ($292.60 million) fine.
The ruling by the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will strengthen the European Commission’s hand in other antitrust investigations. Qualcomm’s run-ins with the Commission have seen it receive total fines of 1.2 billion euros in two cases in the last three years for using its market power to thwart rivals including Intel.
Its grievances with the EU competition enforcer date from 2017 when it was told to provide more information in a case in which it was accused of predatory pricing between 2009 and 2011 to squash British phone software maker Icera, subsequently bought by Nvidia Corp.
Qualcomm said the request exceeded the investigation’s scope. It took its case to the General Court, Europe’s second-highest, but lost its challenge in 2019. It then appealed to the CJEU. The Court backed the EU antitrust watchdog.
“Having regard to the broad powers of investigation conferred on the Commission by Regulation No 1/2003, it is for the Commission to decide whether a particular item of information is necessary to enable it to bring to light an infringement of the competition rules,” judges said.
Qualcomm is the subject of a third case in which EU enforcers are investigating whether it engaged in anti-competitive behaviour by leveraging its market position in 5G modem chips in the radio frequency chip market.