The Taiwan Fair Trade Commission's decision to impose a record fine of more than $700 million on Qualcomm and to demand a departure from some of Qualcomm's longstanding, problematic practices is really huge. If I didn't believe so, I wouldn't be writing this blog post about two hours after receiving approval from Apple to publish my iOS game, after three years of development. We're initially making the game available in 24 countries now and will do our U.S. launch (after a bit more fine-tuning) next month, at which time I'll be more specific about category, name, features, everything.
Taiwan is such a strategic region in the context of Qualcomm's dual-monopoly strategy involving standard-essential patents as well as chipsets. In Taiwan you have three types of key industry stakeholders suffering under what Qualcomm has been doing for a long time:
rival chipset makers (which Qualcomm has so far refused to license, which I believe it should be forced to change if it wants to get the NXP acquisition approved),
contract manufacturers (including some who got sued by Qualcomm; the related case has been consolidated with an Apple v. Qualcomm case in San Diego), and
With a view to pending lawsuits, the biggest impact will be in the Southern District (contract manufacturers) and the Northern (FTC) District of California.
The Taiwan Fair Trade Commission has now joined the Korea Fair Trade Commission, the FTC, and the European Commission, and who knows what trouble Qualcomm may still face in the People's Republic of China, considering that there is speculation about Huawei having ceased to make royalty payments to Qualcomm.
As one would have expected, Qualcomm is fighting the decision. The Bloomberg story I linked to further above says Qualcomm will seek a stay and appeal. It was recently denied a stay in South Korea, by the way.
This has been a very eventful ten months for Qualcomm in antitrust terms. It's hard to identify the tipping point, but my prediction is Qualcomm will have to fundamentally change its patent licensing and other business practices in the not too distant future, and when that happens, today's Taiwanese decision will be considered to have been among the more important events in that regard.
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