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Qualcomm disputes Japanese competition board findings

Japan's competition authority says that Qualcomm forced companies in Japan to cross-license patents to the chip maker for free.

In a draft report, the Japan Fair Trade Commission orders Qualcomm to eliminate that provision from its contracts. It also orders Qualcomm to strike a provision in which the licensees agree not to assert their related patents against each other.

The dispute in Japan joins others in Europe and Korea challenging Qualcomm's business practices.

If it were to eliminate the provisions per the draft order, Qualcomm could face attempts by the Japanese licensees to assert their patents against the chip maker, the company said.

Qualcomm also disputes claims in the order that it forced the Japanese companies to agree to the provisions. Those companies voluntarily agreed to the license terms, it said. “Indeed, the non-assert provision was rejected by several Japanese companies, and is not even a provision in those agreements,” Qualcomm said in a statement.

The chip maker plans to submit its opposition to the draft order within two weeks. After that, the competition authority can issue a formal order with or without modifications, Qualcomm said. The agency could also decline to issue any formal order.

If an order comes, Qualcomm will seek a stay of the order and will request a full hearing and review, it said.

In late July, the Korea Fair Trade Commission issued a US$200 million fine against Qualcomm, after ruling that certain discounts the chip maker offers Korean customers violate competition laws. That ruling followed complaints that Broadcom and two South Korean chip makers filed with the trade commission charging Qualcomm with violating Korean antitrust regulations. Qualcomm has said it plans to appeal the ruling in Korean courts.

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