Qual­comm cast­ing In­tel as hyp­ocrite back­fires in trial

Gulf Times Business - - BUSINESS -

Qual­comm Inc’s lawyers saw a chance to score some points in a gov­ern­ment an­titrust case against the chip­maker by mak­ing an ex­am­ple of ri­val In­tel Corp as a com­pany ac­cused of abus­ing its dom­i­nance of an in­dus­try. They were wrong.

After an in­ter­ro­ga­tion of In­tel’s chief strat­egy of­fi­cer largely back­fired this week, a Qual­comm at­tor­ney on Fri­day de­clined a judge’s in­vi­ta­tion to bring Aicha Evans back to the wit­ness stand as a non-jury trial brought by the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion moved into its fourth day of tes­ti­mony. “Not from us, your hon­our,” Qual­comm lawyer Antony Ryan told US Dis­trict Judge Lucy Koh, prompt­ing a cheer from Evans, which pro­voked wide­spread laugh­ter in the San Jose, Cal­i­for­nia, court­room after one of the liveli­est show­downs so far in the case. It also ended some­thing of an or­deal for him. Tes­ti­mony later Fri­day from Qual­comm chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Steve Mol­lenkopf was de­cid­edly more stolid, with a ref­er­ence to ship­ment prac­tices amid stalled roy­alty pay­ments and a cross ex­am­i­na­tion about the ethos of the San Diego-based com­pany. No fire­works, cheers or laugh­ter en­sued.

Evans, who for­merly ran In­tel’s mo­bile phone chip unit, re­peat­edly turned Ryan’s ques­tions into op­por­tu­ni­ties to restate her com­pany’s opin­ion that Qual­comm un­fairly used tech­nol­ogy li­cens­ing and its lead­er­ship in smart­phone com­po­nents to lock out com­pe­ti­tion. Ryan fre­quently sought to cor­ner Evans by cit­ing piece­meal ex­cerpts from her e-mails and pre­trial tes­ti­mony, a com­mon tac­tic in tri­als to save time. Evans had none of it, as­sert­ing her right to read doc­u­ments aloud in their en­tirety while in­sist­ing con­text was cru­cial. When Ryan tried to in­ter­rupt her, she ig­nored him and read on. Evans was born in Sene­gal, putting her in a very un­usual cat­e­gory in the chip in­dus­try: a black fe­male ex­ec­u­tive. Her mis­sion at In­tel was to gain mar­ket share in mo­bile phones to try to match the com­pany’s dom­i­nant hold of the per­sonal com­puter pro­ces­sor in­dus­try. “Mr. Ryan, Mr. Ryan, you’re go­ing very fast. Easy,” she told the at­tor­ney at one point. Ear­lier she’d said: “I’m a French speaker, num­bers are hard. I’d ask you to please slow down.” In­tel, the world’s sec­ond-largest chip­maker, holds about a 90% share in the lu­cra­tive mar­ket for com­puter server chips. In per­sonal com­puter pro­ces­sors, it rakes in more than 80% of rev­enue. Its only re­main­ing com­peti­tor, Ad­vanced Mi­cro De­vices Inc, once ac­cused In­tel in a law­suit of us­ing its con­trol of that mar­ket to force PC mak­ers into re­main­ing ex­clu­sive users of its prod­ucts. The two sides set­tled the case with In­tel pay­ing AMD more than $1bn in 2009.

Evans ar­gued that Qual­comm had mus­cled In­tel out of con­tracts with Ap­ple Inc by lock­ing the iPhone maker into ex­clu­sive agree­ments. “They came back and told us we’d have a chance in 2016, but in 2014 we’d lost be­cause of a pre-ex­ist­ing agree­ment Ap­ple had with Qual­comm,’’ she said.

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