Qualcomm building
A Qualcomm sign is pictured at one of its many campus buildings in San Diego. Courtesy Qualcomm

A federal judge in San Diego has ruled that shareholders suing Qualcomm for allegedly hiding anticompetitive sales and licensing practices may bring their claims as a class action.

The lawsuit alleges Qualcomm and its executives repeatedly described its businesses of selling chips and licensing its technology to other companies as separate, when in fact the company bundled them in a bid to stifle competition.

The investors leading the case claim the misrepresentations artificially inflated the price of the wireless pioneer’s shares between 2012 and 2017.

Qualcomm has called the allegations meritless, and the company’s stock rose nearly 2 points Tuesday to close at $123.80 per share.

U.S. District Judge Jinsook Ohta rejected Qualcomm’s argument that the sales practices were already publicly known.

Qualcomm’s responses to antitrust allegations by regulators revealed “far more detail” about the practices and the customers affected, she wrote on Monday.

The class covers investors who bought Qualcomm common stock between Feb. 1, 2012 and Jan. 20, 2017 and incurred losses.

Qualcomm paid the Korea Fair Trade Commission $912 million in 2017 for what the regulator called unfair business practices in licensing and chip sales.

The company also faces a consumer lawsuit in California alleging its practices violated state law.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.