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Qualcomm just got hit with antitrust charges in Europe

Qualcomm just got hit with antitrust charges in Europe

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Earlier this year, European regulators filed antitrust charges against Google, but it wasn't the only American tech company being scrutinized by officials: the European Commission has now filed charges against chip maker Qualcomm.

"Major customer" not named

In a statement, the regulators said they had reached the preliminary conclusion that Qualcomm "illegally paid a major customer for exclusively using Qualcomm chipsets and sold chipsets below cost with the aim of forcing its competitor Icera out of the market, in potential breach of EU antitrust rules." The "major customer" is not named.

"Many consumers enjoy high-speed internet on smartphones and other devices — baseband chipsets are key components that make this happen," EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in the statement. "I am concerned that Qualcomm's actions may have pushed out competitors or prevented them from competing."

As The New York Times reports, Qualcomm now has until April to respond to the charges, and although charges don't always lead to huge fines, Qualcomm is facing a major financial hit, with billions of dollars theoretically on the line.

This year, the company, faced with a rapidly declining stock value, said it planned to lay off 15 percent of its work force and would consider breaking itself up as part of a major restructuring.