UK 4G smartphone owners may be due £480m payout

Some 29 million people in the UK could be entitled to compensation of up to £30 each if a lawsuit by watchdog organization Which? is successful.

It is suing chipmaker Qualcomm, claiming it has breached UK competition law by exploiting its dominance in the market for patent licenses and chips.

Which? alleges that Qualcomm overcharged manufacturers, which was then passed on to consumers in the form of higher smartphone prices.

Qualcomm said the lawsuit has “no basis in fact.”

“As plaintiffs are well aware, their claims were struck down last summer by a unanimous panel of judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States,” a spokesperson told the BBC.

Which? is seeking damages for all affected Apple and Samsung smartphones purchased since Oct. 1, 2015.

It estimates that individuals could be entitled to up to £30 compensation each, depending on what type of smartphone they bought.

Anabel Hoult, chief executive of Which? said, “We believe Qualcomm’s practices are anti-competitive and have so far left consumers around £480 million out of pocket – this must stop.

“We are sending a clear warning that Which? stands ready to take action when companies like Qualcomm indulge in manipulative practices that harm consumers.”

Which? has submitted its complaint to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which will decide whether the case can proceed.



Qualcomm, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chips for cell phones, is facing a series of allegations of anti-competitive behavior.

In 2018, the European Commission fined the company €997 million (£858 million) for breaking competition law in a series of deals with Apple.

And in 2019, after a four-year investigation, it imposed another fine of €242 million for abusing its dominant position in the 3G chipset market.

Qualcomm is appealing both notices.

The Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. also sued the company in 2017 for unfair practices in licensing its technology, but dismissed the case last year.

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