Qualcomm is a monopoly – report

monoplyMobile chipmaker Qualcomm has been accused of running a monopoly by China’s antitrust watchdog.

The state-run Securities Times newspaper reported on Thursday that Qualcomm’s chief executive Steven Mollenkopf  held talks in China to see what could be done about the problem.

Watchdog, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), snarled that the US chipmaker was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position In wireless communication standards, allegations which could see it hit with record fines of more than $1 billion.

However the NDRC, did not say whether the regulator had determined that Qualcomm had abused its monopoly, just that it had confirmed it had one.

Qualcomm was charging lower royalties for patents to undercut competitors who have similar technology and maintain market share. The report also said that Qualcomm, as the only provider of chips for high-end phones, can dictate those licensing fees.

The Securities Times report said the NDRC was probing Qualcomm’s local sales data and that Qualcomm President Derek Aberle has been communicating with the NDRC over issues relating to the anti-monopoly investigation.

Under China’s anti-monopoly law, the NDRC can impose fines of between one and 10 percent of a company’s revenues for the previous year. Qualcomm earned $12.3 billion in China for its fiscal year ended September 29, or nearly half of its global sales.