Qualcomm wins court appeal against FTC over patent licensing practices

After a lengthy court battle that lasted nearly 4 years, a US appeals court this week finally ruled in favour of Qualcomm against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over a case of unfair patent licensing practices. As a result, Qualcomm would no longer be forced to renegotiate their old deals with customers.

The FTC filed a case against Qualcomm Inc. for “unreasonably restraining trade in, and unlawfully monopolizing” two communication technologies – CDMA and LTE. Qualcomm initially lost the case in May 2019 after a case ruled in favour of the FTC, after which they appealed the decision with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2019.

The appeals court discovered that the FTC could not “satisfactorily
explain how Qualcomm’s alleged breach of its contractual
commitment itself impaired the opportunities of rivals”, finally leading to a decision being ruled in favour of Qualcomm. If Qualcomm lost the appeal, they would have to renegotiate deals made with older customers, which could have been a big blow to Qualcomm’s position in the industry.

Commenting on the final verdict, Don Rosenberg, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Qualcomm Inc. said:

The Court of Appeals unanimous reversal, entirely vacating the district court decision, validates our business model and patent licensing program and underscores the tremendous contributions that Qualcomm has made to the industry. We thank the panel for its thoughtful consideration of this important case.