In this Nov 7, 2018 photo, people visit the stand of Qualcomm during the First China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China. (PHOTO / IC)

LUXEMBOURG – US chipmaker Qualcomm on Wednesday won its fight against a 997-million-euro ($1.05 billion) fine imposed by EU antitrust regulators four years ago for paying Apple to use only its chips and blocking out rivals such as Intel Corp. 

The European Commission in its 2018 decision said the anti-competitive practice took place from 2011 to 2016, with Qualcomm paying billions of dollars to Apple to use its chips in all its iPhones and iPads. 

READ MORE: Qualcomm faces EU anti-trust probe over radio-frequency chips

The General Court, Europe's second-highest, annulled the EU finding, dealing EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager a major blow. 

"A number of procedural irregularities affected Qualcomm's rights of defense and invalidate the Commission's analysis of the conduct alleged against Qualcomm," judges said. 

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The EU competition enforcer can appeal on matters of law to the EU Court of Justice, Europe's highest.