Qualcomm loses court bid against EU antitrust regulators' demand for data

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm on Tuesday lost a court challenge against a demand for it to provide EU regulators with data in a long-running antitrust case.

FILE PHOTO: A Qualcomm sign is seen during the China International Import Expo (CIIE), at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, China November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The world’s no. 1 chipmaker had already provided the information after being ordered to pay a daily fine for withholding it, but the Luxembourg-based General Court’s ruling is expected to strengthen the Commission’s hand in future similar cases.

Qualcomm has been under the EU spotlight since 2015, when it was accused of predatory pricing between 2009 and 2011 aimed at forcing out British phone software maker Icera, subsequently bought by Nvidia Corp.

As part of the investigation, the Commission in January 2017 told Qualcomm to provide more information.

The company said the request went beyond the investigation’s scope and took its grievance to the General Court.

While waiting for a judgment, Qualcomm however acceded to the EU demand to avoid a daily 580,000 euro ($655,000) penalty for its delayed response.

The Luxembourg-based court on Tuesday dismissed the company’s case.

“The Court finds that the scope of the investigation as defined in the statement of objections, at the state-of-play meeting of 3 September 2015 and at the hearing on 10 November 2016 has not been extended,” judges said.

They said Qualcomm had failed to show that the requested data went beyond what was necessary for the investigation.

Last year, the Commission fined Qualcomm 997 million euros for paying iPhone maker Apple to use only its chips to block rivals including Intel.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by John Stonestreet