Apple Inc. v. Qualcomm Inc. (antitrust)

Analysis Group was retained on behalf of Qualcomm in an antitrust dispute with Apple in the US District Court for the Southern District of California. Apple accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chip and technology markets to force Apple to accept elevated, “supra-FRAND” royalty rates for the use of its technology. According to Apple, the alleged conduct harmed competition in the modem chip industry and caused injuries to Apple and, ultimately, to consumers of smartphones and other mobile devices. Apple sought monetary damages, a declaration that certain of its contracts with Qualcomm would not be enforced, enjoinment of certain Qualcomm licensing practices, and other remedies. Apple also alleged that Qualcomm unfairly set licensing royalty rates as a percentage of the end product price, and forced Apple to use Qualcomm chips exclusively. (The Federal Trade Commission made similar allegations against Qualcomm in a related lawsuit.)

An Analysis Group team led by Managing Principals T. Christopher Borek and Adam Decter, Principal Mark Lewis, and Vice Presidents John Browning, Peter Finch, Anna Gumen, Shogo Hamasaki, and Ivan Maryanchyk, supported four academic experts, all of whom filed expert reports and testified at deposition.

  • Professor Oliver Hart analyzed the economics of the terms of the license agreements governing Apple’s use of Qualcomm’s technologies. He also opined on the economic benefits of enforcing long-term contracts.
  • Professor Christopher Knittel analyzed the price premiums associated with the inclusion of mobile wireless connectivity in Apple mobile devices.
  • Professor Jeffrey Prince used econometric techniques and conducted conjoint surveys to analyze the values of improved camera quality, better battery life, and other Apple smartphone features enhanced by Qualcomm-patented technologies.
  • Professor Edward Snyder used an industrial organization framework to analyze factors relevant to success in the modem chip industry.

The matter was settled after the first day of trial. In November 2020, Global Competition Review announced the case had received its annual award for “litigation of the year - non-cartel defence,” which recognizes “creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of a defendant in a non-cartel private action.”