Although not directly, the proposition of the new guidelines from the EU will certainly worry Qualcomm amid its latest patent battle with Apple. It could be argued by some that the EU is actually directing the guidelines AT Qualcomm, but who are we to speculate?

The new guidelines are being drawn up to prevent patent holders, like Qualcomm, from charging above the odds for the use of patented technology. The EU’s competition regulators are to decide whether a royalty can be charged on the value of the end product which uses it or the value of the component which contains the licensed technology.

In Qualcomm’s case, it’s a question of whether it gets a percentage of the value of the chipset or the handset. Currently, Qualcomm charges according to the patent fee model and has previously charged Apple a percentage of device sales for the use of Qualcomm chips.

This question goes to the heart of the current legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm. In May, Apple told the EU:  “It is not reasonable to charge more for use of the very same component in a Mercedes versus a Hyundai or a car versus a bicycle. This is discriminatory based on the price of the end product, both within and outside of a particular product category.”

No less a body than the US IEEE ruled some time ago that royalties for mobile technology should be based on the value of the chipset and not the handset, but this ruling seems to have been ignored in the marketplace. Similarly, no doubt, the EU’s initial ruling will be ignored, but the EU is hinting that what will start off as a ‘guideline’ could end up as a law.

The EU says it intends to have drawn up the guidelines by the end of this year

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