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Qualcomm hit by Icera allegation

June 18, 2010 // Peter Clarke

Qualcomm hit by Icera allegation

Mobile communications technology company Qualcomm Inc. could come under an investigation by the European Commission after allegations that it has used incentives to try and dissuade customers from dealing with U.K. company Icera Inc.

Icera (Bristol, England) has complained to the European Commission and the complaint is being investigated but is still in its early stages, according to sources.

Icera makes software modems and supporting silicon to provide cellular broadband in 3G dongles and handsets. Icera's adaptive modem technology is focused on 3G (HSPA+, HSPA) and 2G (GSM, GPRS, EDGE) cellular voice and data modem chipsets and firmware, with 4G (LTE) scheduled in the near future. Icera executes the entire modem in software on an Icera-designed application-specific processor.

The company, founded in 2002 and still privately held, has been competing against larger and more-established players such as Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson. Icera CEO, Stan Boland, complained about unfair competition from an unnamed rival during panel at a one-day conference in London in May organized by the Global Semiconductor Alliance. A fellow panelist that day was Michel Hardies, scientific officer for nanoelectronics at the European Commission. Icera has now gone further and made a formal complaint.

However, the exact nature of the complaint is not known. It is believed that Qualcomm has offered patent-related deals to some customers.

Icera declined to comment.

"We do note, however, the similarity between Icera's allegations and those in complaints made previously to the EU, which apparently failed to persuade the Commission and were ultimately withdrawn. We believe the new allegations to be equally meritless," a Financial Times report quoted Qualcomm as saying.

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