The future of American semiconductor innovation—and the price of future smartphones—may hinge on what is happening in a San Jose courtroom. In the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, companies including Apple, Blackberry, Ericsson, Intel, LG, MediaTek, Huawei and Samsung have testified on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission’s application of traditional anti-trust concepts to rein in practices by Qualcomm that harm consumers, competition and innovation.
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Experts in the technology industry are closely watching the Apple–Qualcomm litigation, in which the phone and computer designer has charged the chip-making firm of anticompetitive behavior and the chip maker has retaliated with multiple worldwide patent lawsuits. But the dispute is worth the attention of national security experts, too. Recent developments set up a potentially revealing showdown in the larger context of the Trump administration’s foreign economic policy.
Late last month, I wrote about the draft proposal from the Trump administration to nationalize the American 5G network as a way of protecting it against foreign influence. Though I was skeptical of the methods chosen, I was more appreciative of the assessment of the problem: