South Korean court upholds $873-million fine against U.S. chip giant Qualcomm

FILE PHOTO: A Qualcomm sign is pictured at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai, China June 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean court on Wednesday upheld a record $873 million fine against U.S. chip giant Qualcomm (QCOM.O) for unfair business practices related to patent licensing and modem chip sales.

Seoul High Court Judge Noh Tae-ak rejected the company’s appeal against the penalty imposed by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) in 2016 saying Qualcomm had abused its dominant market position.

The court however said the regulator’s claims that Qualcomm had disadvantaged smartphone makers by signing “comprehensive” licensing deals lacked evidence, opening the door for the company to continue such practices.

It was not immediately clear whether either side would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Qualcomm, the world’s biggest supplier of mobile phone chips, derives most of its profits from a business segment that invents technologies and licenses them.

The company forecast between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion in revenue for that segment for its fiscal first quarter, above analyst expectations of $1.23 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Qualcomm is a top chip supplier to South Korean smartphone makers Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and LG Electronics (066570.KS), as well as to Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Writing by Ju-min Park; Editing by Stephen Coates

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