Europe accuses Qualcomm of paying companies to use its chips

European Commission reports that illegal payments were made to a smartphone manufacturer.

The European Commission has sent a sternly-worded letter to Qualcomm, accusing it of abusing its position in the local market. Regulators claim that the chipmaker made "illegal payments," to an as-yet unnamed smartphone manufacturer so that it would only use Qualcomm's 3-and-4G hardware. In addition, the outfit stands accused of intentionally selling gear well below its cost price in order to put a local rival, Icera, which is now owned by NVIDIA, out of business. Those two offenses are, if proven to be true, enough for Qualcomm to be given a hefty slap by Europe.

It's a big problem for Qualcomm, since the commission can be a fearsome opponent to a tech company that's been caught doing something dodgy. The firm will be threatened with a substantial fine, too, which could be the second time in recent memory it's had to pay up. Earlier this year, the business had to pay out close to a billion dollars to deal with a similar set of charges over in China. Now that Europe's findings have been published, Qualcomm has three and four months, respectively, to answer for the crimes that it stands accused of committing.