The lawsuit comes after South Korea charged Qualcomm $854 million for its patent licensing practices, and China fined it $954 million after an antitrust probe of its own. The FTC found that Qualcomm threatened the supply of baseband processors to customers that didn't agree to its patent licensing terms. The company reportedly pushes a licensing "tax" on companies when they purchase baseband processors might by competing firms.
Additionally, Qualcomm also refuses to license its patents to competitors, which goes against its commitment to "FRAND" (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing tactics. And, perhaps most damning, Qualcomm also offered reduced royalty fees to Apple in exchange for using its baseband processors exclusively.
"Qualcomm believes the complaint is based on a flawed legal theory, a lack of economic support and significant misconceptions about the mobile technology industry," the company said in a statement. "The complaint seeks to advance the interests and bargaining power of companies that have generated billions in profit from sales of products made possible by the fundamental 3G and 4G cellular technology developed by innovators like Qualcomm."
At this point, Qualcomm's chips can be found in the vast majority of mobile devices. Its Snapdragon SoCs (system-on-chips) power most high-end Android phones. Moving forward, it aims to be just about everywhere, including the IoT and connected car business.