In an ongoing antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm led by the Federal Trade Commission, the company is forced to license its patents to its rivals, according to a preliminary ruling by the United States federal court judge. The court had ruled that if Qualcomm had been allowed to keep the corresponding patents to itself, the company would've achieved a monopoly in the modem chip market.
The intellectual property in question relates to some of the United States chip maker's patents which protect core technologies essential for chips which permit mobile devices to connect to wireless systems. In its lawsuit, FTC accused Qualcomm of overcharging customers, such as Apple, for its patents.
Judge Koh's ruling, that Qualcomm must license some of its technologies to other companies pitching modems at the mobile market, included a denial of the request for a delay by the company and the FTC while they pursue settlement talks in the lawsuit. The ruling means Qualcomm must license its modem patents to competitors. The court case was launched in 2017 and is set to reach the trial stage next year.
This court case is running parallel to a legal battle between Qualcomm and Apple. The two tech giants have been clashing for years over licensing, with the former claiming that the iPad and iPhone maker owes $7 billion in patent licensing fees - while the latter says that Qualcomm is operating an "illegal" business model.
The court has yet to rule if the company also has to offer these patents for reasonable prices, as the FRAND terms require. Both of which have had to rely on Qualcomm's modem chips whenever they manufactured their phones. It will likely take months before we as consumers see any benefit from it, and that's only if Qualcomm's appeal of the ruling is unsuccessful.