Intel accuses Qualcomm of trying to ‘stifle competition’ through patent lawsuits

It's safe to say that Intel won't be sending Qualcomm a holiday card this season. Instead, Intel executive vice president and general counsel Steve Rodgers railed against Qualcomm in a blog post over its patent litigation, and what Intel believes Qualcomm is truly trying to accomplish.

"Qualcomm’s goal is not to vindicate its intellectual property rights, but rather to drive competition out of the market for premium modem chips, and to defend a business model that ultimately harms consumers," Rodgers wrote.

What exactly is Intel's beef? The timely rant was likely motivated by Qualcomm's dispute with Apple over various patents, which recently resulted in some iPhone models being banned in Germany.

There are multiple layers here, but one of the things that may have set Intel off is an accusation that Apple had stolen chip secrets and sold them to Intel.

"Unlawful use of Qualcomm's valuable trade secrets to try to help a competitor catch up irreparably harms us and must not be allowed to continue," Qualcomm's general counsel Donald Rosenberg told CNBC in September.

Part of what's interesting about Intel's blog post is that these things are usually settled behind the scenes. However, it appears there's now an effort to sway public opinion.

"As we’ve noted before, in the last several years, Qualcomm has been fined nearly a billion dollars in China, $850 million in Korea, $1.2 billion by the European Commission and $773 million in Taiwan (later reduced in a settlement) for anti-competitive practices," Rodgers pointed out. "Meanwhile, the US Federal Trade Commission continues to pursue claims against Qualcomm in federal court for alleged violation of U.S. antitrust law."

Naturally, Rodgers doesn't bring up any of Intel's own legal blemishes. As Fudzilla points out, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Intel in 2009 for allegedly trying to "hamstring competition."

"Intel has engaged in a deliberate campaign to hamstring competitive threats to its monopoly," Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. "It's been running roughshod over the principles of fair play and the laws protecting competition on the merits. The commission's action today seeks to remedy the damage that Intel has done to competition, innovation, and, ultimately, the American consumer."

What Rodgers did say, however, is that he hopes the actions by the FTC and other global authorities will "help preserve competition," especially as it relates to 5G wireless technology. If nothing else, Intel's blog post underscores how important the company sees the emergence of 5G, and what's at stake.

"The world benefits from competition in the wireless technology market. We hope that it flourishes," Rodgers wrote.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).