FTC v. Qualcomm: New Frontiers in the Antitrust-IP InterfaceClick here to read the full article online
The Federal Trade Commission recently scored a substantial victory in its antitrust suit against Qualcomm. The case represents a novel confluence of standard-setting and IP licensing issues with bedrock antitrust subjects: tying and exclusive dealing. It also takes a surprising turn in resuscitating the long-dormant doctrine of the antitrust “duty to deal.” In this short essay, I review and evaluate the court’s decision in FTC v. Qualcomm. The analysis of Qualcomm’s exclusive dealing is sound and very likely correct. However, the court’s duty-to-deal analysis sits on shakier ground, omitting consideration of potential immunity under the Patent Act and sidestepping thorny questions on the appropriate source of law.