No Stay for Qualcomm Antitrust Orders Ahead of Appeal

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) – A federal judge denied Qualcomm’s attempt to put her antitrust ruling on hold Wednesday while the company pursued an appeal.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh denied Qualcomm’s attempt to block implementation – pending appeal – of a series of business practices that figures to fundamentally alter the operations of one of the world’s largest chipmakers, including the renegotiation of license fee deals with several competitors and manufacturers.

Koh was uncharacteristically terse in her ruling, providing no rationale for the denial of Qualcomm’s motion. The company said it should not have to implement Koh’s orders until it has its day in court at the Ninth Circuit.

“We will immediately ask the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay,” a Qualcomm spokesman said in an email.

Court watchers estimate it could be as long as a year before the company will get a final answer on its appeal.

Koh’s order comes about six weeks after she sided with the Federal Trade Commission in one of the most closely watched antitrust cases of the era.

At the heart of the case was Qualcomm’s “no license, no chips” policy, where the company was accused of exacting exorbitant licensing fees from its customers by threatening to withhold needed computer chips.

Qualcomm is one of the foremost manufacturers of computer chips related to wireless communication in smartphones and a pioneer of 3G and 4G networks.

It is in the midst of the race to 5G and told Koh in a brief her orders would seriously impact its ability to compete in the current market.

Koh found customers were adversely affected by Qualcomm’s high licensing fees and ordered the company to end the “no license, no chips” policy and renegotiate its contracts.

The ruling was a mild shock to the business community, particularly as it came after a surprising settlement between Qualcomm and Apple over related patent disputes.

Qualcomm immediately appealed to the Ninth Circuit. That appeal is pending.


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