Apple contractors accuse Qualcomm of antitrust violations

A new round of artillery has been fired in the ongoing antitrust and licensing fight between Apple and Qualcomm. And this time, Qualcomm is on the receiving end of the shot.

Four contractors that build iPhones and other Apple products say Qualcomm violated two sections of the U.S. Sherman Antitrust Act. The contractors — Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry, Wistron, Compal Electronics and Pegatron — made their claims in a filing late Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The contractors say Qualcomm violated the Sherman Act when it sued them in May in order to make the companies pay license fees to Qualcomm.

Apple directed the contractors to withhold their payments while a suit between Apple and Qualcomm played out. In that case, Apple sued Qualcomm in January, alleging that Qualcomm withheld the payment of almost $1 billion in rebates owed to Apple due to Apple’s working with federal regulators in South Korea.

Everything in the dispute links back to the modem-chip technology that Qualcomm makes, and which iPhones use to connect to cellular data networks. Qualcomm’s method of tying the sales of such chips to patent licenses has come under investigation by regulators in many countries, including the United States and South Korea.

Photo: A sign sits atop Qualcomm headquarters in San Diego in 2011.  Four Apple contractors say Qualcomm has violated the Sherman Antitrust Act as part of an ongoing legal dispute between Qualcomm and Apple. (Gregory Bull/AP)


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