On August 11, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited decision in Federal Trade Commission v. Qualcomm, reversing the district court and finding against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC’s case alleged Qualcomm’s “no license, no chips” policies violated the antitrust laws. After the FTC won an injunction and the lower court imposed a broad remedy, Qualcomm appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which found for Qualcomm. The FTC has now sought en banc review by the full Ninth Circuit.
Those watching this case to see how the court addressed the complex intersection of antitrust and patent rights will be disappointed, as the court did not dive deep into those waters, but Big Tech companies currently facing intense antitrust scrutiny may find more to like in the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. While Qualcomm is the current winner in this case, the Ninth Circuit’s opinion may also be a harbinger of good news for Big Tech companies facing antitrust scrutiny.
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