Major automakers urge FTC to seek appeal after defeat in Qualcomm case

A group of tech companies and automakers, such as Tesla Inc, Ford Motor, Honda Motor, and Daimler AG, on Monday, urged the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to seek an appeal following its loss in a case against chip supplier Qualcomm Inc.

Earlier this month a U.S. appeals court reversed a lower-court decision against Qualcomm, which is involved in innovations for connecting devices to mobile data networks. The court also vacated an injunction that would have required Qualcomm to modify its patent licensing practices.

Qualcomm was battling a May 2019 decision by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, in a case brought by the FTC. Koh sided with the FTC, writing that Qualcomm’s practice of needing phone makers to sign a patent license agreement before selling them chips “strangled competition” and harmed costumers.

Automakers have increasingly put chips in automobiles to connect them to the internet, which needs them to sign patent agreements for communications standards such as 5G. The companies had earlier argued that connected car prices could increase if Qualcomm won its case.

Qualcomm won its appeal of that ruling prior to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in an August 11 ruling by a three-judge panel. In a letter sent Monday, the automakers, together with Qualcomm rivals Intel Corp and MediaTek Inc, urged the FTC to seek an “en banc” rehearing of the case by the full appeals court.

“If allowed to stand, the panel’s decision could destabilize the standards ecosystem by encouraging the abuse of market power acquired through collaborative standard-setting,” the group said.

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