FTC Appeals Qualcomm Decision

An exterior view of the Federal Trade Commission building
(Image credit: Future)

The Federal Trade Commission has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its decision reversing a lower court ruling in the Qualcomm case, a ruling that had favored the FTC.

The vote was 3-2, with Republican chairman Joe Simons joining the two Democrats to seek the review. 

Related: CCIA Urges Appeal of Qualcomm Decision

In May 2019, Judge Lucy Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California had ruled that Qualcomm had indeed violated antitrust law, as the FTC had alleged in a complaint that Qualcomm used anticompetitive tactics to protect its dominance in the modem chip market. 

The FTC has now asked the full court to review that panel's decision.

Related: Appeals Court Reverses Comcast Smackdown

In a big victory for the smart device essential patents holder, the three-judge panel last month month reversed both reversed the district court decision and lifted a permanent, worldwide, injunction against Qualcomm. 

Computer companies had almost immediately signaled they would appeal the decision.

The Federal Trade Commission had contended that Qualcomm had unlawfully monopolized the "code division multiple access ('CDMA') and premium long-term evolution ('LTE')" cellular modern chip markets, and the district court agreed. But a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit was unpersuaded. Writing for the majority, Judge Consuelo M. Callahan said that the district court "erred in holding that Qualcomm was under an antitrust duty to license rival chip manufacturers."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.