Qualcomm Wants Samsung, Apple to Turn Over Documents
The chip maker is asking a U.S. court to order seven tech vendors to turn over evidence they gave South Korean regulators probing antitrust charges.Qualcomm for more than a year has been the target of investigations in several countries over its licensing practices, and now the chip maker reportedly is pushing back at some of the tech vendors officials believe helped spark a probe in South Korea. The company is asking a federal court to force seven vendors to produce any documentation they may have provided to South Korean antitrust regulators in connection with the investigation. The request highlights the tangled relationships between some of the players. For example, both Samsung Electronics and manufacturers that make Apple products are rivals, but at the same time, they also are key customers of Qualcomm. According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung and the Apple manufacturers accounted for more than 10 percent of Qualcomm's revenues in the most recent fiscal year. In all, Qualcomm—the world's top mobile-chip vendor—is asking a U.S. District Court in California for the authority to get documents and other evidence that may have been supplied by the seven companies, which include not only Samsung and Apple, but also Intel, Broadcom, Texas Instruments, Via Technologies and MediaTek. Samsung and Apple also make their own ARM-based systems-on-a-chip (SoCs); the others make processors that are used in other mobile phones. In papers filed with the court last week, Qualcomm officials said they want the information from the other vendors to help them prepare for hearings that will be used as part of the investigation by regulators at the Korea Fair Trade Commission. The officials reportedly said that the seven vendors named in the filings had given evidence to the South Korean regulatory body, which is keeping them confidential. So Qualcomm is hoping to get copies of the evidence by having a U.S. court order the vendors to hand them over.
Qualcomm officials announced in November that the company is being investigated by the Korea Fair Trade Commission, which is saying the company's licensing practices violate competition laws in the country. The regulatory agency is arguing with Qualcomm's practice of licensing patents to the value of the mobile device while requiring that chip customers be licensed to its intellectual property.