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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has opposed Qualcomm's request to put on hold enforcement of a federal judge's sanctions for violating monopoly laws – arguing that a delay would allow the San Diego company to continue to levy an artificial surcharge on rival chip makers.

In a legal brief filed with the U.S. District Court in San Jose on Tuesday, the FTC said Qualcomm failed to show how renegotiating hundreds of patent licenses agreements as required by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh would cause the company irreparable harm - a legal hurdle for granting a stay.

"Licenses can take months to negotiate, and should the court stay its order, negotiations free from anti-competitive practices will not begin until Qualcomm's appeal has run its course," FTC lawyers wrote in a brief. "This would adversely affect competition at a critical time, just as the cellular industry is transitioning to 5G technology."

Qualcomm could not be reached for comment.

On May 21, Koh found that Qualcomm had violated anti-monopoly laws, which the FTC first alleged in a lawsuit brought two years ago.

The ruling was a major victory for the FTC, with Koh adopting many of its arguments and rejecting all of Qualcomm's defenses.

The FTC case, brought in the waning days of the Obama administration, has been controversial. Two FTC commissioners, one former and one current, have spoken out publicly against the case and its result. The U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division views patent licensing disputes as contract law issues that don't raise to the level of antitrust violations.

In her ruling, Koh required Qualcomm to take sweeping actions that could significantly revamp its business model, as well as the cellular industry's practice of licensing patents based on the percentage of the cost of the smartphone, not the chips inside it.

Qualcomm is appealing Koh's ruling to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the meantime, it asked for a delay in imposing remedies until its appeal could be heard.

The FTC was expected to oppose Qualcomm's stay request. If Koh eventually rejects it, Qualcomm can seek a stay from the Ninth Circuit pending appeal.

The FTC argued that Qualcomm failed to show how it would suffer irreparable harm by having to renegotiate hundreds of existing patent licensing agreements under the cloud of chip level licensing – which the company claims would be difficult to re-negotiate again if the Ninth Circuit finds in its favor.

The FTC also said Qualcomm's arguments that Koh's ruling raises serious legal questions are incorrect, and that the company has failed to show a likelihood of success on appeal that would justify a stay.

Finally, the FTC attacked Qualcomm's argument that the ruling could pose a threat to national security by crippling its patent licensing revenue – much of which is funneled into research and development on advanced wireless technologies such as faster, more ubiquitous 5G networks.

Qualcomm cited a letter from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or CFIUS, which blocked Broadcom's hostile takeover attempt of Qualcomm last year on the grounds that it could result in reduced cellular research and development and give China's Huawei an advantage in 5G.

The FTC said CFIUS did not address Qualcomm's business practices or how "an injunction that preserves Qualcomm's ability to license its patents on terms that reflect "fair value" could harm Qualcomm's investment incentives or implicate national security."

"Qualcomm's argument that anything that diminishes its corporate profits would necessarily threaten national security is absurdly over-broad and contrary to Congress's determination, in enacting the Sherman Act, that competition furthers the public interest," the FTC said.

Koh has not indicted when she will rule on Qualcomm's stay request, but it is expected relatively soon.

The company's shares ended Tuesday at $71.24 but fell nearly 2% in after-hours trading.

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