Insiders say European regulators are unlikely to appeal the cancellation of a billion-euro fine for Qualcomm.
Qualcomm received a billion-euro fine from the European Commission in 2018. Qualcomm allegedly bribed Apple between 2011 and 2015. In exchange, Apple exclusively processed Qualcomm chips in iPhones and iPads, the prosecutors claim.
Qualcomm appealed. The case ended up in the General Court, Europe’s second-highest court. The court waived the fine in 2022. According to the General Court, the European Commission made several mistakes during the initial charge.
European regulators can challenge the General Court’s ruling, but according to insiders, the chances of success are slim. Anonymous sources recently told Reuters that regulators have no confidence in a successful appeal.
No confidence in appeal
The information is confidential. The sources are anonymous to avoid sanctions. In the event of an appeal, the case ends up before the highest court of the European Union. Insiders fear it’s difficult to convince the court of Qualcomm’s guilt.
The arguments against a fine are strong. According to the initial indictment, Qualcomm bribed Apple to prevent Apple from cooperating with Qualcomm’s competitors. The General Court, however, ruled that Apple had no alternative suppliers to Qualcomm at the time. Qualcomm paid Apple to use its products, but since the organization had no competitors, damages are difficult to assess.
Qualcomm likely goes free
The ruling was a blow to the European Commission. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager managed to slap Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Meta with billion-euro fines in recent years. Qualcomm is expected to walk free. The chip giant could have been convicted, but according to the General Court, the European Commission made a number of “procedural” slips.