Is Qualcomm blackmailing the Taiwanese Government to avoid the $774 million fine?

- Adrian Ungureanu

Qualcomm’s action has upset many authorities and companies around the world all these years of supremacy on the mobile chipset markets. Being the biggest chipset on the market help them impose their own terms in their business relations with their “partners”.

Taiwan isn’t a similar case, because Qualcomm was fined in China and South Korea, too, so there must by some truth about that right? In Taiwan the chipmaker was fined with $774 million, after 7 years of infringing the local antitrust legislation.

They didn’t contested the verdict, yet they were unsatisfied with the amount of the fine and the method it was calculated. Now, they seem to put pressure on the Government to maybe relieve them of the fine.

While in Taiwan attending the 30th anniversary celebrations of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) recently, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf also spared time to meet with Taiwan’s vice premier Shih Jun-ji to raise his concern over the fine issue, and to exchange views on the possibility of future cooperation between Qualcomm and Taiwan-based players.

Qualcomm plans to take administrative action or seek administrative remedies against the fine, according to officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) who were present at the meeting.

The officials also said that Mollenkopf has stressed Qualcomm’s intention to continue further cooperation with Taiwan’s industries, but also hopes Taiwan’s administration branch to offer related information to clarify the case during the litigation procedures.

However, Qualcomm has also informed Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), a government-backed organization engaged in applied research and technical services, that it will suspend further negotiations over the 5G collaboration projects between Qualcomm and ITRI.

Qualcomm announced in August an intent to collaborate on 5G NR-enabled small cell technologies with ITRI, aiming to accelerate delivery and global commercialization of 5G NR small cell products and infrastructure by Taiwan’s OEMs and ODMs.

ITRI said in a statement that it has received a verbal notification from Qualcomm to halt further meetings over 5G cooperation projects.

The announcement of the Qualcomm fine has sparked widespread discussions and concerns about whether it will jeopardize Taiwan’s partnerships with Qualcomm on 5G development.

MOEA and FTC do not seem to agree with each on the Qualcomm issue. MOEA said earlier that it was concerned that the fine could create an unfriendly environment for foreign investments and undermine Taiwan’s technology development in the long term.

However, the independent FTC stands firm on its decision. Qualcomm’s business model has apparently violated the Fair Trade Law, said FTC chairperson Huang Mei-ying during a recent meeting with lawmakers.

”If there were no penalty, the Fair Trade Law would be meaningless”, Huang told the lawmakers.