Qualcomm hit with EU fine as Amazon is being probed

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The European Union fined Qualcomm on Thursday, one day after it announced it was probing Amazon.

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The U.S. chipmaker was slapped with a $271 million fine, accusing it of "predatory pricing." EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Thursday the U.S. company was abusing its market dominance in 3G baseband chipsets and said it sold below cost to force out a competitor. She said the company was Icera.

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Vestager said the market was too important to tolerate such abuse. She said "baseband chipsets are key components so mobile devices can connect to the internet. Qualcomm sold these products at a price below cost to key customers with the intention of eliminating a competitor."

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Qualcomm, which described the decision as "meritless" will appeal the decision, and offered its view on what happened.

“The Commission spent years investigating sales to two customers, each of whom said that they favored Qualcomm chips not because of price but because rival chipsets were technologically inferior.  This decision is unsupported by the law, economic principles or market facts, and we look forward to a reversal on appeal,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm in a release.

Earlier in the week, the EU said Amazon will face a formal antitrust investigation into its dealings with third-party merchants. Its investigation will look into whether Amazon is abusing its dual role as both the provider of a marketplace where independent sellers can offer products and a retailer of products in its own right. Amazon’s third-party marketplace represents a growing portion of its overall sales.

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Previous EU investigations into U.S. tech firms, including Qualcomm and Google, have resulted in hefty fines.

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Amazon said on Wednesday that it would cooperate fully with EU antitrust regulators investigating its use of merchants' data.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.