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Qualcomm In Crosshair Of South Korea's Fair Trade Commission: Report

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The Fair Trade Commission of South Korea is launching an investigation into the business practices of Qualcomm, a source familiar with the issue revealed to Reuters.

The new investigation adds to the antitrust woes being faced by the United States-based chipmaker, right after the company agreed to pay a record fine placed upon it for violating antitrust regulations in China. Qualcomm is also currently embroiled with antitrust investigation in the United States and Europe.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the topic, did not elaborate further on the pending investigation.

A business newspaper in South Korea reported that Qualcomm will be investigated by the Fair Trade Commission for possibly abusing the company's dominant position in the lucrative chip market. The newspaper, however, did not cite any direct sources.

The newspaper also reported that, as part of the investigation, the commission is planning to send inquiries to smartphone makers based in South Korea such as Samsung and to competitors of Qualcomm such as Intel.

Reuters reported that the Fair Trade Commission, Samsung and Qualcomm refused to issue a comment on the matter. Intel, on the other hand, has not yet responded to a request for a comment.

Qualcomm was already fined by the Fair Trade Commission of South Korea in the past. Back in 2009, the commission ordered Qualcomm to pay over $200 million after an investigation found that the company abused its dominant position in the chip market.

In August of last year, antitrust authorities from China held a meeting with their counterparts in South Korea to discuss the investigation on Qualcomm.

Earlier this week, Qualcomm was ordered to pay a record fine of $975 million as a settlement to end the 14-month investigation of the Chinese government into the alleged anti-competitive practices of the company in the country.

Qualcomm's settlement with China also requires the company to decrease the royalty rates that it would charge on the patents being used in the country, which would assist China-based smartphone manufacturers such as Xiaomi and Huawei in creating bigger profits for their respective companies.

Qualcomm said that it would not challenge the finding of China's National Development and Reform Commission that the company violated antitrust regulations in the country. However, Qualcomm President Derek Aberle noted that while Qualcomm respects the authority of the Chinese regulatory body, it does not think that the antitrust investigations against the company in other countries will end up with the same results.

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