In July 2015, the Commission opened two in-depth investigations into potential abusive practices of Qualcomm, a baseband chipset company. The results of this preliminary market investigation have raised the Commission's fears with regard to possible abuses of dominant position, which is prohibited by Article 102 TFEU. These practices have driven competitors (such as Icera) out of the market. The Commission has sent two statements of objections to Qualcomm:
- The first concerns financial incentives: since 2011, Qualcomm may have illegally paid major smartphones and tablets manufacturers for exclusive use of its chipsets.
- The second concerns the practice of predatory pricing: between 2009 and 2011, Qualcomm may have sold some baseband chipsets below cost, in order to drive its competitors out of the market.
Qualcomm has a period of three months (regarding the first objection) and four months (regarding the second objection) to respond to the Commission’s allegations, and it also has the opportunity to request an oral hearing in both cases.
At the end of these two investigations, the Commission must give a ruling regarding infringements of competition law and it could impose fines of up to 10% of the annual turnover of the company.