On December 28, 2016, the Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) issued a steep fine (“KFTC Ruling”) against Qualcomm for antitrust violations in patent licensing and modem chip sales – a record penalty that the U.S. company will challenge in court. Finding that Qualcomm leverages its standard-essential patent (SEP) portfolio to further its chipset business in contravention of Qualcomm’s fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) obligations and Korean antitrust law, the agency levied a penalty of over US$850 million and directed Qualcomm to alter its business model.

The KFTC Ruling is just one of the latest challenges to Qualcomm’s licensing strategy and also sets forth Korea’s understanding of what FRAND obligations entail.