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Today, Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District Court of California ruled that Qualcomm’s patent licensing practices violate the Federal Trade Commission Act.
The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“We congratulate the FTC on this important victory. Judge Koh's ruling shows that the FTC has the ability to bring, and win, important cases that protect American consumers.
“This case underscores the importance of standards-setting to promoting innovation. Qualcomm has created many important wireless technologies that are a key part of smartphones. But Qualcomm's technologies were only included in industry standards because it agreed to license its patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Inclusion in mandatory standards is what gives those technologies commercial value in the first place.
“This important ruling, among other things, holds Qualcomm to its FRAND commitments. Companies who contribute their technologies to standards are entitled to fair compensation but cannot be allowed to use their patents--which the entire industry, because of standards, must use--for anticompetitive ends. Standards-setting bodies and IP rights cannot be used as an end run around competition law.
“The FTC should continue to ensure that companies with bottleneck control of key technologies do not act in ways that reduce competition and raise consumer prices.”