UK iPhone users could be due $677 million from Qualcomm

in General Discussion
The UK's Which? consumer watchdog is suing Qualcomm for what it claims is illegally inflated prices for 4G modems, which were then passed on to buyers of iPhone and Samsung phones.


Six months after it won an antitrust appeal with the US FTC, Qualcomm is facing a similar case in the UK. Long-standing consumer watchdog organization and publication Which? has applied to the Competition Appeal Tribunal to sue Qualcomm.

"We believe Qualcomm's practices are anti-competitive and have so far taken around 480 million GBP [$667 million] from UK consumers' pockets," said Anabel Hoult, chief executive of Which?, said in a statement. "This needs to stop. We are sending a clear warning that if companies such as Qualcomm indulge in manipulative practices which harm consumers, Which? is prepared to take action."

"If Qualcomm has abused its market power, it must be held to account," she continued. "Without Which? bringing this claim on behalf of millions of affected UK consumers, it would simply not be realistic for people to seek damages from the company on an individual basis - that's why it's so important that consumers can come together and claim the redress they're entitled to."

According to Which?, Qualcomm breached competition law and "employs two unlawful practices." Those are that it "refuses to licence its patents" to other firms, and also demands a royalty fee from Apple and Samsung.

Which? claims that this resulted in inflated prices which the two manufacturers then passed on to customers. It seeks up to 30 GBP ($42) damages for every customer.

According to BBC News, Qualcomm has said that this case has "no basis."

"As the plaintiffs are well aware, their claims were effectively put to rest last summer by a unanimous panel of judges at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States," said a Qualcomm spokesperson.

The UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal will determine whether the case can go ahead, but in the meantime the organization is asking users to join its potential class action suit.

It says that its campaign covers any iPhone or Samsung Android phone bought after October 2015 not including anything in the iPhone 12 lineup.. The organization's site includes an online checker to help you know whether you are likely to be eligible to join the suit.


  • Reply 1 of 5
    Before you cheer this on ... realize that this is merely the Europeans lashing out at American tech companies that they lack the innovation to compete against. (I will not mention WHY they lack this innovation in the first place despite in theory having innovation potential that is equal to ours.) Which means that measures against Apple for refusing to license their IP and other things that are just placeholders for "being better than any tech firm than we are capable of making" will be coming soon.

    Look at the ARM Holdings thing. The UK had no problem with it being sold to Softbank. But Nvidia tries to buy them? They freak out because Nvidia is an American company. This is why the UK and the EU spend more time inventing reasons to go after American tech companies over - well things that they invent - than they do China, Russia etc. for anything. Europe isn't America, who has decided - for varying reasons - that Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber etc. are "evil" and Apple is as "good" as a major corporation is going to get. First off, Apple's products aren't used nearly as much in Europe as they are in America, and it is their own love of Macs, iPhones, iPads and their desire not to have anything done to/with them that causes them to leave Apple out of the crosshairs. Many of them sided against Epic Games - when they have favored smaller companies against Microsoft, Google, Amazon etc. over similar issues in the past - because they personally don't want their own iPhone and iPad experiences changed (especially if the changes are going to make the devices some combination of more complex and less secure). Were Epic Games going after Google exclusively instead of Apple, these same people would be their biggest cheerleaders. But in Europe, Microsoft and Android have bigger market shares, so there are going to be fewer journalists and politicians with an interest in protecting them. Such as the judge who practically screamed at Epic Games' lawyers while referencing her own personal iPhone at the time: you aren't going to get that in Europe. Just liike how the Supreme Court justices in the Oracle vs Google case - again nearly all iPhone owners - criticized Google for not being more like Apple when they were developing Android. Instead in Europe you are going to get judges who are still angry that Nokia is out of business.

    So while you are cheering the UK for sticking it to Qualcomm today, realize that tomorrow they are going to demand that Apple give up their M1 chip IP to the British ARM Holdings for Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek to pilfer for their own tomorrow ... because they know that ARM Holdings is incapable of matching that design on their own. Their attempt to make their own Firestorm core only resulted in a 40% increase in performance over the previous core (when they needed at least 100%) and they currently can only use 1 such big core at a time (the M1 has 4 and the M1X will have as many as 8) and this was with Samsung's help as a codesigner (which means had it been entirely up to ARM Holdings, their attempt to compete with Apple's Firestorm core would have been even worse).

    So go ahead and laugh at Qualcomm now, but just know that Apple will be in the UK/EU crosshairs next. If it won't be IP or trust related issues, they will just claim - again - that Apple has billions in unpaid taxes. This will be based on their own arbitrary method of calculating them against foreign companies and Apple will have absolutely no recourse.
    edited February 25
  • Reply 2 of 5
    I'll believe it when I see it in my hands. Until then this is pure pie in the sky.
  • Reply 3 of 5
    Not a fan of qualcomm, but would defend apple to the hilt, qualcomms business practicess ARE dodgy, even apple themselves saw that when they started their own legal proceedings against them, before settling to make sure they got 5g modems.... one of which i assume is in my iphone 12.
    im from the uk, not impressed arm was sold to japan, and even less so nvidia, nowt to do with specifically where theyre based just that theyre not british (though i would have been happier with an AMD takeover)
    dont assume all europeans and english are the same.... were not, i for instance am british, i am NOT european, big BIG difference
  • Reply 4 of 5
    Oh give over Ionicle. Point if fact: if you are British, you are European. Look it up in an atlas some time. That apart, I agree with your first paragraph.
  • Reply 5 of 5
    ..or you know there could be merit to the complaint:
    since even US companies (including Apple) have taken issue with Qualcomm over this precise issue and demanding royalties for IP that is not reasonably theirs, while also pulling BS antics such as requesting 1.3Bn merely in processing fees. 

    The anti-USA European conspiracy theory is so ignorantly nationalistic and frankly comically uninformed that it does not warrant a fuller response. 
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