The European Commission vs. Qualcomm

The European Commission has launched a case against Qualcomm for the way they license their technology to other companies. Cellular-News has the story, among others. I first caught wind of it over at Howard Chu’s HowardForums. My post there was a bit of a knee jerk reaction. Since that post I’ve done a little more reading and I have to say that my opinion is unchanged, though I also have a better understanding of why the EC is after them.

By way of background, you should know that Qualcomm invented much of the intellectual property upon which CDMA technology rests. They to a huge gamble to invent an entirely new communications technology. They are now raking in the dough because the executed on their strategy and created n industry.

So now that Qualcomm’s invention is a relatively popular technology, one that has even been flattered by the very Europeans trying them, using CDMA as the basis for the European standard of 3G, W-CDMA, the EC are contemplating denying Qualcomm the right to profit from their efforts. I thought the whole point of patent regimes was to encourage investment and innovation. Isn’t that what Qualcomm has done. They loose their lock on the market when their patents expire.

So if Qualcomm has been a poster-child for innovation, why would the EC be after them? Why are the companies taking Qualcomm to court in Europe anyway? Why not in the US? Could it have anything to do with the way Qualcomm messed Ericsson around in court, and that they’ve given Nokia plenty of stick for the same reasons? Ericsson and Nokia. They’re both European companies, aren’t they? Hmmm, I wonder.

But Texas Instruments, an American company, and Panasonic, a Japanese company, are also joining the suit in Europe. Why didn’t they sue in America? Or Japan? Might it have anything to do with the EC’s history being more interventionist? More willing to impose a solution rather than leave market forces to sort things out?
Those would be my guesses. Submit your own in our comments section.

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