Qualcomm faces new European antitrust probe

Icera, a U.K. chipmaker, lodged the complaint

Qualcomm faces another antitrust complaint in Europe, this time filed by Icera, a U.K. fabless semiconductor company.

"We understand that matters are at a very preliminary stage and we are currently reviewing the allegations," Qualcomm said in a statement. The company said it believes the allegations are meritless and that it will cooperate with the European Commission's investigation.

Icera focuses on mobile broadband, developing wireless modems for USB sticks, laptops and smartphones.

Qualcomm argues that the complaint is similar to previous charges that were dropped. "We do note, however, the similarity between Icera's allegations and those in complaints made previously to the EU, which apparently failed to persuade the Commission and were ultimately withdrawn," it said in the statement.

However, the complaint was not necessarily dropped because it failed to persuade the commission.

That action began in 2005 with ultimately Ericsson, Nokia, Broadcom, Panasonic, NEC and Texas Instruments joining in on the complaint. By late 2009, all the complainants had withdrawn. Since the Commission had already invested significant resources in the investigation, it decided it couldn't justify continuing without the complainants, according to a statement it released.

At the time, Ericsson said it withdrew its complaint following successes with actions against Qualcomm in South Korea and Japan. Korea imposed a US$200 million fine against the chip maker for its behavior and Japan issued it a cease-and-desist order. Ericsson also said it was too expensive to continue to pursue the complaint in Europe.

Icera said it is not commenting on the complaint.

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