Wednesday, December 26, 2018

List of complainants over Qualcomm's conduct keeps growing as LG Electronics joins Korean antitrust action

While things slow down in Western countries between Christmas and New Year's Day, "Tis the season" has a different meaning in South Korea. Two years ago at this time of the year, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) slammed Qualcomm with a fine. And now BusinessKorea reports that LG Electronics has joined the related antitrust lawsuit.

LG's decision is important since Samsung withdrew from the case last year following a comprehensive business agreement with Qualcomm involving patents, chipsets, and manufacturing. However, depending on how the FTC v. Qualcomm trial (scheduled to start on Friday, January 4) will go, Qualcomm may have to renegotiate its deal with Samsung anyway.

According to BusinessKorea, other complainants in Korea include Apple, Intel, MediaTek, and Huawei. MediaTek is mentioned from time to time in connection with Qualcomm's conduct, and one of my New Year's resolutions for this blog will be to find out at least a little bit more about the role they play. The fact that the name of this Taiwanese semiconductor company keeps coming up got me curious.

Meanwhile in Germany, where Qualcomm capitalized on the terrible "defendant's dilemma" laid out by the court, we may still have to wait a little before we know about a potential stay of enforcement of the injunction. Today is yet another public holiday in Germany (Second Christmas Day). Since the ruling came down on Thursday afternoon, the earliest time when Apple could realistically have filed an appeal and a motion to stay enforcement would have been Friday, December 21 (if they had already prepared an appellate brief in anticipation of what happened). But this is a high-profile case, with major economic implications, so maybe the appellate judges are already looking into this despite the Holiday Season. German judges are free to take case files home (it's all on paper though some courts, such as the Federal Patent Court, internally work with electronic documents to an increasing extent) and work whenever and wherever they please. The most fundamental question will be whether the appeals court affirms or reverses the lower court's agnosticism (the court stated in public that there may not even be an infringement).

It doesn't look like enforcement has already begun. Qualcomm firstly needs to post the bond or make the deposit (north of $1.5 billion in the aggregate of two injunctions, a fact missed by fake news media and clueless commentators) and on that basis serve the injunction on Apple. They said it would take a few days, so maybe enforcement will begin later this week.

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