The European Commission opened two formal antitrust investigations into possible “abusive behaviour” by US chipmaker Qualcomm.
The first case concerns EU rules which prohibit the abuse of a dominant position by offering financial incentives to customers on condition that they buy baseband chipsets exclusively or almost exclusively from Qualcomm.
The second is looking into whether Qualcomm engaged in “predatory pricing” by charging price below costs with a view to forcing its competition out of the market.
The former covers both 3G and 4G products, while the latter is focused on 3G chips.
Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “We are launching these investigations because we want to be sure that high tech suppliers can compete on the merits of their products.”
In a statement, Qualcomm said: “This step allows investigators to gather additional facts, but it represents neither an expression by the Commission on the merits of the case nor an accusation against the Company. While we were disappointed to hear this, we have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with the Commission, and we continue to believe that any concerns are without merit.”
The Commission said the latest step means that it will examine the cases “as a matter of priority”, and that it “does not prejudge the outcome of the investigations”.
The investigation comes a matter of months after Qualcomm settled a long-running dispute with China’s National Development and Reform Commission, which ended with a $975 million fine, and with Qualcomm modifying its licensing practices and reducing royalties in this market.