August 12, 2020

On August 11, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated a judgment against Qualcomm Inc. in its ongoing antitrust dispute with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) involving fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing issues. The Ninth Circuit panel unanimously ruled in favor of Qualcomm, and against the FTC, reversing the district court’s judgment finding that several of Qualcomm’s core patent licensing practices violated federal antitrust law.

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling represents a key development at the intersection of antitrust law and FRAND licensing obligations for standard essential patents (SEPs). The court of appeals rejected a “trailblazing application of the antitrust laws” to Qualcomm’s so-called “no license, no chips” policy and related patent licensing practices.

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