Appeals court seems poised to reverse landmark Qualcomm antitrust ruling

Enlarge / Judges Consuelo Callahan, Johnnie Rawlinson, and Stephen Murphy. (credit: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals)

An attorney for the Federal Trade Commission faced a skeptical reception from three appellate judges Thursday as he fought to defend a landmark ruling that Qualcomm’s aggressive modem chip licensing tactics violated antitrust law.

“Isn’t that maybe being overly capitalistic but not necessarily anticompetitive?” Judge Consuelo Callahan asked at one point during the argument before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. Callahan, a George W. Bush appointee, was hearing the case alongside another Bush appointee, Stephen Murphy, and Clinton pick Johnnie Rawlinson.

Last May, a federal trial court judge ruled that Qualcomm had violated antitrust law with its “no license, no chips” policy. Under this policy, no one was allowed to buy chips from Qualcomm unless they first agreed to pay royalties for Qualcomm’s patents.

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