Seoul: South Korea’s antitrust watchdog Thursday fined US firm Qualcomm a record 260 billion won ($208 million) for violating fair competition rules by abusing its market monopoly.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said in a statement it made the decision after investigating whether the mobile chipmaking giant engaged in improper business practices to bolster its market dominance.
The fine is the largest ever imposed by the FTC on a single company.
Qualcomm has said its practices did not breach South Korean laws and it would appeal any adverse ruling.
The FTC had been reviewing whether the global firm had been selling its code division multiple access (CDMA) system with bundled products, and paying rebates and discounts to its chipset customers.
“Qualcomm owns the origin of CDMA technology and occupies around 99.4% in the CDMA modem chip market at home (in Korea), and has strengthened its monopolistic position through those acts,” it said in the statement.
The FTC probe stems from complaints by two US companies — Texas Instruments and Broadcom — as well as two smaller companies in South Korea.
Broadcom withdrew its complaint after settling with Qualcomm in May.
South Korea is one of Qualcomm’s major markets as it is home to Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, the world’s leading mobile handset manufacturers.
In 2006 the FTC fined Microsoft 32.5 billion won for unfair business practices. It fined Intel 26 billion won in 2008 for unfair trade practices in the domestic personal computer market.