Qualcomm is a US-based technology company which manufactures LTE baseband chipsets found in many smartphones. Its chipsets enable smartphones and tablets to connect to mobile networks.
Qualcomm also owns a number of patents including some that are considered to be ‘essential’ for your phone to use 4G (so-called “standard essential patents”).
Which? believes Qualcomm is abusing its position and employing an anticompetitive strategy that is in breach of competition law.
Which? believes Qualcomm employs two harmful and unlawful practices:
- It refuses to license its patents to other competing chipset manufacturers and,
- it refuses to supply chipsets to smartphone manufacturers, such as Apple and Samsung, unless those companies obtain a separate licence and pay substantial royalties to Qualcomm.
Together, these abuses enable Qualcomm to charge Apple and Samsung higher fees for the licences for its patents, than would be the case if Qualcomm behaved lawfully. Which? believes that Qualcomm is using its market power to obtain an unlawfully gained advantage in its negotiations with manufacturers which enable it to insist on charging artificially high fees for its patents.
Qualcomm also insists that it is paid fees by smartphone manufacturers even when they don’t use Qualcomm chipsets in their smartphones and use another chipset instead. That raises the manufacturing costs of all smartphones, which are ultimately passed on to consumers, meaning that consumers have paid more for smartphones than they should have done.
Collective proceedings are a form of litigation that is conducted by a representative on behalf of a large number (a class) of individuals or businesses. You might have heard this type of case referred to as a “class action” or “group action”.
Collective proceedings can be brought on an ‘opt-in’ basis, where members of the class must choose to join and be part of the claim. They can also be brought on an ‘opt-out’ basis, where members of the class are automatically included in the claim unless they decide not to be.
Which? was granted a Collective Proceedings Order (or CPO) on 17 May 2022. Wondering what a CPO is? Which? explains in the following video.
You are welcome to share this video on social media to help other consumers understand about Which?’s claim and whether they may be included.
Which?’s claim will go ahead on an ‘opt-out’ basis. This means that consumers who fit the class definition are automatically included as a class member unless they decide to ‘opt-out’.
The deadline to opt-in and opt-out of the claim has now passed.
If you were living in the UK on 17 May 2022, and fit the class definition, you are automatically included in the class.
You do not need to do anything further to be part of the claim. Use our eligibility tool here to see whether you fit the class definition.
Which? is the UK’s largest independent, non-profit consumer advocacy organisation. Which? has been championing consumers’ rights for more than 60 years by testing products, publishing product reviews and pushing companies to improve their standards and practices.
For more information, check out Which?’s website www.which.co.uk.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal is a specialist court that hears competition law cases, including collective proceedings.
The Tribunal publishes its Rules and Guidance, together with information about what it does and details of its on-going cases, on its website www.catribunal.org.uk.
A person wishing to bring collective proceedings as a class representative must first get permission from the Competition Appeal Tribunal for the claim to proceed. This is known as making an application for ‘certification’ or obtaining a collective proceedings order (‘CPO’). The hearing of Which?’s CPO application took place on 30 March and 1 April 2022.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal granted Which?’s CPO application in a judgment dated 17 May 2022. This means that Which? has been authorised to act as the Class Representative, and Which?’s claim can now proceed to a trial.
The steps taken since Which?’s CPO application was granted are summarised in the case timeline here. Before a trial takes place, there are further steps to complete including more disclosure of documents and production of witness and expert evidence. Once a trial date has been set, the case timeline will be updated.
Because of the litigation funding arrangements that have been put in place, the claim will not cost class members anything, whatever the outcome.
Which? is a non-profit organisation and as such cannot fund a claim of this size by itself. Which? is working with a litigation funder, Augusta Ventures, to bring the claim.
Which? has obtained insurance to cover Qualcomm’s legal costs, in the event that the claim is unsuccessful.
You are likely to be a member of the class for this claim if, since 1 October 2015, you purchased a new version of one of the models of Apple or Samsung smartphones listed here, in the UK, for your personal use. Please click here to see the full class definition.
You will not be able to claim if you bought the smartphone wholly for your business, trade or profession, if the smartphone was refurbished or purchased ‘second-hand’, or if you are in the list of excluded persons (available here). You can claim for smartphones that you may have bought for relatives (including children under 16) or which you bought as a gift for others for their personal use.
Personal representatives of individuals who have passed-away since making their purchase can represent those individuals for the purposes of Which?’s claim, if they are the personal representatives of individuals who:
- purchased their smartphone(s) on or after 24 December 2015 and died on or before 18 February 2021; or
- purchased their smartphone(s) on or after 1 October 2015 but died since 18 February 2021.
However, individuals who only purchased their smartphone(s) before 24 December 2015 and died on or before 18 February 2021 are not included in the class and their personal representative cannot be included on their behalf.
The deadline to object to this collective action has now passed.
If you are eligible to be a class member, you are automatically included in the class. Check out our eligibility tool here to see if you likely qualify. Please click here to see the full class definition.
If you would like further information about the legal process or how to claim if the case is successful, please click here to register with us to receive periodic updates. However, you do not need to register to be eligible for compensation.
If you are not sure about your eligibility, please contact us here with any queries.
Signing up here for updates will help us keep you informed of the progress of the claim.
We currently estimate that consumers may be due between £5 and £30 each.
This amount may increase or decrease depending on the model of smartphone you purchased, and how many smartphones you have purchased since 1 October 2015.
Check out our eligibility tool here.
There is no guarantee that you will get any money – first, the case has to be won, or a settlement agreed.
If you are eligible – yes! The class definition includes consumers who purchased smartphones directly from manufacturers (Apple or Samsung), via a mobile network operator (such as Vodafone, EE or O2) or through a retail store (such as Carphone Warehouse) in the claim. The claim also covers smartphones bought as part of a smartphone plan or on credit, and whether purchased in-store or online or over the phone, provided the handset was delivered to an address in the UK. Click here to see the list of models of Apple or Samsung smartphones included.
If you are not sure about your eligibility, please contact us here with any queries.
Which?’s claim is an ‘opt-out’ collective action in the Competition Appeal Tribunal. This means that Which?, as class representative, has brought the claim on behalf of a defined group of people who are automatically part of the class if they fit the class definition. Class members do not have to sign-up to be part of the claim.
Unless you followed the steps required to ‘opt-out’, and excluded yourself from the claim, you will be automatically included in the claim if you were domiciled in the UK on 17 May 2022 and fit the conditions for inclusion in the class. You are also included in the class if you were not domiciled in the UK on 17 May 2022 but informed Which? of your choice to opt-in to Which?’s claim by 15 November 2022.
The best way to stay up to date on the progress of the claim is by signing up to our email updates here.
This website will also be regularly updated as the claim progresses.
It is sensible to keep any product information leaflets, invoices, receipts, credit card statements or direct debit statements or other proof of purchase of your smartphone as well as copies of any mobile phone contracts or hire purchase or loan arrangements. We will provide a further update here when the Tribunal has decided what documents are needed.
This claim relates to Apple and Samsung smartphones. It is possible that owners of other types of phones have also paid too much due to Qualcomm’s behaviour, but at this stage we are focusing on ensuring that owners of the two most popular brands of phones in the country obtain compensation.
Ultimately, Qualcomm could decide to compensate other phone owners too, if it admits that it has done the wrong thing and tries to make amends.
If you purchased your smartphone second-hand or refurbished, you do not fall within the scope of the proposed class.
Similar class actions are being brought against Qualcomm in, for example, the United States and Canada.
We are also aware of a number of competition authorities worldwide having investigated and, in some instances, fined Qualcomm for anticompetitive behaviour including authorities in South Korea (which has recently been upheld by the Supreme Court of Korea) and Taiwan.
We have established a dedicated email account, email@example.com, through which we will send out periodic updates on the claim. Any email you receive from that account is safe to open, unless stipulated otherwise on this website.
The email inbox is regularly monitored, but please note that we are unable to respond to emails concerning questions of eligibility at this time. If you are wondering whether you may be eligible for inclusion in the claim, please use the eligibility tool here.
Am I part of the class of consumers that Which?
represents in this claim?
Use our eligibility tool to find out if you might be eligible to be part of the class.
Register for updates
Thank you for registering your interest in Which?’s smartphone claim. You will receive periodic email updates as the claim progresses. Should you have any queries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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By providing your name and contact details, you agree to receive periodic updates on the progress of Which?'s claim against Qualcomm. These updates will be provided by Which?, or by Epiq (the claims administrator) on Which?’s behalf, in accordance with the website Privacy Notice.