By Brent Kendall and Asa Fitch
A federal appeals court on Friday halted for now a ruling that found Qualcomm Inc. committed an array of antitrust violations, a boost for the chip maker that allows it to maintain its business practices for the near future.
The ruling is a defeat for the Federal Trade Commission, which had sued the company.
The San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request by Qualcomm to stay a decision by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh that ordered major changes to how the company licenses its technology.
Judge Koh's ruling, issued in May, found the company leveraged its dominance in smartphone chips to force device manufacturers to pay unreasonably high royalty rates for Qualcomm's intellectual property.
Qualcomm argued its business practices were legitimate and perfectly lawful and said a stay was necessary because Judge Koh's ruling would impose harms on the company that couldn't be undone later on.
Qualcomm couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Friday's court action isn't a final word on the merits of Qualcomm's appeal, though it suggests the company faces at least a fair prospect of winning.
The submission of written legal papers will continue through mid-November, with oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit to follow soon after. A ruling could take several more months -- or longer.
Friday's stay by the appeals court means Qualcomm won't have to change its practices while the litigation is ongoing.
The case dates back to January 2017, when antitrust officials at the FTC sued Qualcomm in the waning days of the Obama administration. The case has produced an unusual split between two federal antitrust agencies, with the Justice Department stepping into the case to support Qualcomm.
Write to Brent Kendall at firstname.lastname@example.org and Asa Fitch at email@example.com