Ben HaywardFebruary 25th
2021

Roughly 29 million UK smartphone users may be entitled to a share of a £480 million compensation payout if a legal claim from Which? proves successful.

The watchdog is in the process of suing chipmaker Qualcomm, citing claims that the company breached UK competition laws by taking advantage of its dominance in the patent licensing and chip markets.

Which? Is alleging Qualcomm charged inflated fees to manufacturers, which were then passed on to consumers in the form of higher smartphone prices.

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The case is seeking damages for all affected Apple and Samsung smartphones purchased since October 1st 2015, estimating that individuals could be entitled to up to £30 compensation each.

Anabel Hoult, chief executive of Which? said: "We believe Qualcomm's practices are anti-competitive and have so far taken around £480m from consumers' pockets - this needs to stop.

"We are sending a clear warning that if companies like Qualcomm indulge in manipulative practices which harm consumers, Which? is prepared to take action."

Which? has now filed the claim with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which will decide if it can progress.

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However Qualcomm says the case has ‘no basis’. Speaking to the BBC, a Qualcomm spokesperson said: “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.”

One of the world's largest producers of mobile phone chips, this is not the first time Qualcomm has been accused of taking part in ‘anti-competitive behaviour’.

In 2018, the European Commission fined Qualcomm €997m (£858m) for violating competition laws in a number of deals it made with Apple, and in 2019, the company was hit with a further €242m fine for abusing its position in the 3G chipset market, following a four-year investigation - although Qualcomm is currently appealing both fines.

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The US Federal Trade Commission also sued the firm for unfair practices relating to technology licensing practises in 2017, however that case was dismissed last year.

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