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Takeaways from the Recent Qualcomm Decision

The DOJ’s intervention, and the judge’s ultimate decision, has exposed tensions between the DOJ and FTC, and within the FTC itself, and public scrutiny is far from over as the case heads to the Ninth Circuit on appeal.

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On May 21, California federal judge Lucy Koh ordered a sweeping injunction against cellphone chipmaker Qualcomm, requiring the company to renegotiate its licenses and alter its business model. Qualcomm’s “no license, no chips” policy, which required cellphone manufacturers to license Qualcomm’s patents in order to access Qualcomm’s modem chips, was challenged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in January 2017. Apple also sued Qualcomm for its patent-licensing practices but in April of this year, reached a surprising settlement on the first day of trial. See, Daniel Siegal, “Apple, Qualcomm Drop Multibillion-Dollar Licensing War,” Law360 (April 16, 2019).

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