Korean Fair Trade Commission Questions Qualcomm

Wireless chip maker Qualcomm disclosed Wednesday that the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) is looking into its business dealings with three South Korean handset makers.

KFTC officials visited the offices of Qualcomm’s South Korean subsidiary on Tuesday, along with those of phone makers Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Pantech Curitel, Qualcomm said.

The inquiry isn’t an official investigation, according to Qualcomm, although the KFTC didn’t explain the reason for its visit. Qualcomm said it may be related to "communications" received by the KFTC from a small Korean company about Qualcomm’s distribution of mobile video software used with its mobile phone chipsets.

Qualcomm was accused of anticompetitive behavior last year in a complaint filed in Europe by six big mobile phone and chip vendors. They accused Qualcomm of not adhering to agreements it made when it contributed patents to the wideband code division multiple access standard. Qualcomm called those charges inaccurate and meritless.

The KFTC has not said its inquiry is related to those complaints, Qualcomm said. In a statement it said its business practices are lawful and procompetitive.

-James Niccolai, IDG News Service

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