TAIPEI (CNA) – Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC, 公平交易委員會) announced Wednesday that it plans to impose a fine of NT$23.4 billion (US$773.9 million) on U.S.-based Qualcomm Inc. for violating the Taiwan Fair Trade Act.
The fine will be the heaviest ever handed out to a single company by the Taiwanese antitrust authority since its establishment in 1991.
The FTC launched an investigation in February 2015 into whether the mobile phone technology and chipmaker’s patent licensing arrangements violate the Taiwan Fair Trade Act.
As part of its investigation, the FTC examined other chipmakers and contract mobile phone makers, as well as upstream and downstream vendors in the mobile phone supply chain, both at home and abroad.
Regulators at the European Commission, as well as in China and South Korea, have all filed antitrust charges against Qualcomm, claiming that it has used anti-competitive methods to squeeze out rivals.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission issued a ruling in 2015 that Qualcomm had violated its anti-monopoly law. The ruling includes a fine of 6.088 billion yuan (US$975 million) and imposes conditions on royalties charged on phones sold in China.
Qualcomm’s license fees were too high and the company used its dominant position to force customers into accepting its conditions, the Chinese antitrust regulator said at the time.
The following year, South Korea’s antitrust regulator slapped a record 1.03 trillion won (US$853 million) fine on Qualcomm for violating antitrust laws.
The South Korean Fair Trade Commission said Qualcomm coerced its customers into signing patent license contracts when selling its chips used in mobile phones in the country. •
By Tsai Yi-chu and Evelyn Kao