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Qualcomm fighting accusations of intellectual property monopoly

Qualcomm employs about 13,000 people in San Diego County, among its 38,000 workers worldwide. Its economic impact on our city is undeniable, which underscores the significance of the allegations hurled by the US Federal Trade Commission against the chipmaker.

The FTC alleges in a lawsuit that Qualcomm has a monopoly on chips for mobile phones, which forces Apple, Samsung, LG and other companies to pay excessive licensing fees for its tech. Qualcomm’s networking technology patents and software essentially force handset manufacturers to pay the licensing fees even if they don’t use the San Diego firm’s chips in their phones.

The intellectual property dispute is one of several Qualcomm faces, including battles with Apple and regulators in the European Union, China and South Korea.

The FTC says Qualcomm pressured Apple and other phone manufacturers into using its chips in exchange for reducing licensing fees – a practice that discourages competition, the federal agency argues. Qualcomm counters the claims, saying the FTC doesn’t have evidence that Qualcomm has engaged in anticompetitive behaviors against rival chip producers.

The Qualcomm-Apple duel has resulted in the iPhone maker using Intel products in its devices, CNET reports.

Qualcomm produces the Snapdragon processors used in many Android phones. It says it holds more than 130,000 patents and patent applications around the world. Its patents are critical to the mobile operating systems, wi-fi, Bluetooth and power management, among other common phone components and functions.

We do not yet know what will come of the FTC-Qualcomm trial, but we do know that companies interested in protecting their IP should contact a law firm known for effectively litigating disputes over patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.