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Taiwan fines Qualcomm US$800m

TAIWANESE authorities have imposed a record fine of nearly US$800 million on Qualcomm for antitrust violations in the latest of a string of setbacks for the US computer chip giant.

Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission slapped Qualcomm with a fine of NT$23.4 billion (US$774 million) for harming market competition and manipulating prices following an investigation launched in 2015.

“Qualcomm’s illegal actions have seriously affected the (market) competition... to ensure, maintain or enhance its dominance in the market,” the commission said in a statement late Wednesday.

According to the commission, Qualcomm had violated fair trade rules for at least seven years by refusing to offer licenses that are essential for manufacturing chipsets to rival manufacturers and had imposed unfair contracts on smartphone makers.

Qualcomm earned over US$13.33 billion in royalty fees and US$30 billion in baseband chip sales to local firms in that period, it added.

The world’s biggest handset chip supplier said yesterday it would appeal the fine.

“Qualcomm disagrees with the decision... and intends to seek to stay any required behavioral measures and appeal the decision to the Taiwanese courts,” it said in a statement.

Last year, Qualcomm was hit with a record fine exceeding US$850 million by South Korea’s antitrust watchdog for abusing its dominant market pole as a maker of baseband chipsets used in mobile phones.

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