UK smartphone owners may be owed a staggering £482.5 million in damages from Qualcomm, one of the largest smartphone chip makers in the world – according to a legal claim filed by consumer advisory service Which?.
According to Which?, Qualcomm is anticompetitive. Its practices breach UK competition law as set out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Which? claims the multi-billion dollar chipmaker uses its market dominance to charge phone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung unreasonably high fees for using its technology.
Which? says Qualcomm not only denies competing chipmakers licenses to its patents but also refuses phone manufacturers from using its chips unless they buy licenses and pay large royalties.
These expenses allegedly inflate manufacturing costs – a price that’s ultimately paid by the consumer.
The projected class-action lawsuit, if successful, could earn every UK consumer affected anywhere from £5 to £30. The amount each customer receives depends on how many phones were purchased from 1 October 2015. The claim automatically includes customers who bought specific Apple and Samsung phones since that date.
Related: Everything you need to know about the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
“We believe Qualcomm’s practices are anticompetitive and have so far taken around £480 million from UK consumers’ pockets – this needs to stop,” said Anabel Hoult, CEO of Which? in a statement to the press.
“We are sending a clear warning that if companies like Qualcomm indulge in manipulative practices which harm consumers, Which? is prepared to take action.”
There is still some way to go before consumers can see the compensation however, and the payout isn’t guaranteed.
Which? must first get permission from the Competition Appeal Tribunal to act as a class action representative. It then has to win – unless a settlement is reached with Qualcomm first.
Tech Advisor is awaiting Qualcomm for comment.
See all the latest phone news here