Antitrust Officials Unlikely to Appeal Qualcomm Case to Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON—Federal antitrust officials are unlikely to mount a Supreme Court appeal seeking to revive their case alleging leading chip maker Qualcomm Inc. engaged in illegal monopolization, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Federal Trade Commission sued Qualcomm during the final days of the Obama administration in 2017, alleging the company used unlawful tactics to maintain a monopoly on cellphone chips. It won a sweeping ruling from a trial court in 2019 that ordered Qualcomm to change its business practices.

The two sides’ fortunes reversed last year when a three-judge panel on the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emphatic decision for Qualcomm, saying the FTC hadn’t demonstrated that the company’s practices were anything other than lawful attempts at profit maximization.

The deadline for the FTC to appeal to the Supreme Court is in less than two weeks and, after consultation with the Justice Department, the commission isn’t likely to do so, people familiar with the matter said.  If the commission lets the deadline pass without action, the case will be over.

The FTC, Justice Department and Qualcomm all declined to comment.

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