Congress Weighs In On Qualcomm and Apple At The ITC

The big Qualcomm news this week was the start of the FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust trial in front of Judge Koh.1  

But Qualcomm’s first ITC case against Apple has also had significant developments—even though the ITC is shut down and the case is on hold.

In particular, a number of members of Congress have addressed comments to the ITC.  These Senators and Representatives express their concern with Qualcomm’s request to exclude their competitor’s products and the serious impacts it would have on U.S. competitive conditions and on national security.  I understand that other Congressional letters are expected once the ITC re-opens submissions. As the ITC’s filing system isn’t necessarily user-friendly, I have collected the current Congressional submissions in this post (and will update with additional submissions as I obtain them).


Letter from Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ): “An exclusion order would create a monopoly in the open market for baseband chipsets just as 5G deployment begins, which would result in higher prices, less stable supply, and reduced innovation.  The order also would risk the loss of the significant manufacturing jobs that Intel is creating in Arizona.”

Letter from former House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA): “Forcing Intel out of the market now would deal a serious below to competition in this critical sector [5G] and thus to our economic interests. … The vacuum created by Intel’s absence would invite greater American dependence on foreign suppliers that have no stake in promoting our interests.”

Letter from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Peter DeFazio (D-OR): “As the ALJ explained, an exclusion order that creates a monopoly market and eliminates competition in the premium chipset market will dampen the ‘quality, innovation, competitive pricing, and in this case the preservation of a strong U.S. presence in the development of 5G and thus the national security of the United States.  … A healthy and competitive global market driven by American companies will enable our companies to compete on security and privacy, in addition to other market drivers such as performance and cost, leading to a more secure communications infrastructure.”

Letter from Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and Doris Matsui (D-CA): “Our concern is that by granting an exclusion or cease-and-desist order in this instance the Commission would not only impact the FTC’s enforcement action, but also could be inadvertently showing powerful technology companies a strategy for circumventing their FRAND obligations.  This has the potential to cause consumer harm far beyond this specific investigation.”

Letter from Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), David Schweikert (R-AZ), and Roger Williams (R-TX): “Currently, there are only two suppliers of premium baseband chipsets for smartphones in the U.S., Qualcomm and Intel.  Companies must be able to source components from a competitive market of trusted suppliers.  Allowing free-market principles to govern the baseband chipset market will encourage further development of innovative 5G technologies and further spur competitive pricing.  However, allowing Qualcomm’s exclusion order to take effect will only serve to remove Qualcomm’s lone competitor in the baseband chipset marketplace and increase risks to our economic and national security.”

Letter from Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), and Greg Stanton (R-AZ): “Application of the exclusionary order would hurt competitive conditions, production of essential components related to 5G technology, and U.S. consumers.  It would also risk national security … Accordingly, to maintain American technological supremacy, safeguard national security, and promote future developments vital to elevating public health and welfare, we believe this case warrants application of a non-exclusionary remedy from the Commission.”

  1.  For a blow-by-blow of this case from a number of reporters in attendance, check out the hashtag #ftcqcom on Twitter.

Joshua Landau

Joshua Landau is the Patent Counsel at the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), where he represents and advises the association regarding patent issues.  Mr. Landau joined CCIA from WilmerHale in 2017, where he represented clients in patent litigation, counseling, and prosecution, including trials in both district courts and before the PTAB.

Prior to his time at WilmerHale, Mr. Landau was a Legal Fellow on Senator Al Franken’s Judiciary staff, focusing on privacy and technology issues.  Mr. Landau received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.S.E.E. from the University of Michigan.  Before law school, he spent several years as an automotive engineer, during which time he co-invented technology leading to U.S. Patent No. 6,934,140.

Follow @PatentJosh on Twitter.