First reported by the FT yesterday, mobile chip giant Qualcomm has confirmed that Icera - a UK chip company specialising in ‘soft modems' for mobile devices, with a particular strength in mobile broadband USB dongles - has alleged anticompetitive activity from Qualcomm to the European Commission.
There has been now statement from Icera or even acknowledgement from the EC, but Qualcomm wasted little time in issuing a statement effectively saying this looks like more of the same kind of thing that the EC concluded was not worth pursuing late last year. Here it is:
"We can confirm that Icera has lodged a complaint with the European Commission, alleging that Qualcomm has engaged in anticompetitive activity. We understand that matters are at a very preliminary stage and we are currently reviewing the allegations.
"We do note, however, the similarity between Icera's allegations and those in complaints made previously to the EU, which apparently failed to persuade the Commission and were ultimately withdrawn. We believe the new allegations to be equally meritless. Qualcomm will cooperate fully with the Commission, as we have done in the past."
The FT report says Icera is accusing Qualcomm of using patent-related incentives to discourage its customers from doing business with Icera. That sounds a lot like the allegations AMD made against Intel for so many years. While Qualcomm's chips are commonplace in mobile phones, it's keen to establish similar ubiquity in larger devices via its Snapdragon chips and Gobi modem modules.
VC-backed Icera was founded in 2002. Here's how it describes the appeal of its products: "Mobile network operators are specifying Icera chipsets because of the benefits of the company's unique, new soft modem technology which delivers higher performance on smaller silicon, increasing consumer mobile broadband data rates and improving network capacity while simultaneously pushing down costs."