A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out a sweeping antitrust judgment against Qualcomm Inc., ruling the federal government didn’t prove the dominant cellphone chip maker engaged in illegal monopolization.
The San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the Federal Trade Commission hadn’t shown that Qualcomm’s core business practices related to its cellphone chips and patents were anything more than lawful attempts at profit maximization.
San Diego-based Qualcomm “has asserted its economic muscle with vigor, imagination, devotion, and ingenuity. It has also acted with sharp elbows—as businesses often do,” Judge Consuelo Callahan wrote for a three-judge panel.
Judge Callahan said it wasn’t the court’s job “to condone or punish Qualcomm for its success, but rather to assess whether the FTC has met its burden…to show that Qualcomm’s practices have crossed the line to conduct which unfairly tends to destroy competition itself. We conclude that the FTC has not met its burden.”
The decision served as a major victory for Qualcomm after years of litigation, and its shares initially jumped more than 4%, then ceded some of those gains during a broader market decline.
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