European court to re-examine €1.06bn Intel fine following appeal

Toni Houston
September 8, 2017

Europe's top court, the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), has ordered a lower-court to re-examine the U.S. chipmaker Intel's appeal against a 1.06-billion-euro EU antitrust fine for abuse of a dominant position.

The fine against Intel was a record at the time, but the European Union surpassed it in June with a 2.4 billion euro ($2.8 billion) against Google over its online shopping service.

In its ruling Wednesday, the CJEU agreed with Intel. In its Wednesday ruling, the ECJ determined that the EGC must now reexamine how much such rebates hindered competition from AMD.

The Commission said Intel had given rebates to four major computer manufacturers - Dell, Lenovo, HP and NEC - on the condition that they purchased from Intel all, or nearly all, of their x86 CPUs. It said the General Court was wrong not to examine its arguments to this effect when assessing its appeal.

Intel was given a boost yesterday when Europe's top court sent the EU's antitrust regulators case against the USA chipmaker back to court for an appeal.

The Commission said it would study the judgment carefully and that it was up to the General Court to review its decision.

Intel then appealed that decision to the highest court, the European Court of Justice.

It found that Intel had given wholly or partially hidden rebates to PC manufacturers such as Dell and Lenovo for using its chips rather than those of rival AMD, and that Intel had also directly paid computer manufacturers to scrap or delay the launch of products using non-Intel chips.

Steven R. Rodgers, Intel's general counsel, said: "While this case concerns events that happened more than a decade ago, we have always believed that our actions were lawful and did not harm competition".

The CJEU concluded that the General Court had erred in law by failing to examine the rebates Intel had provided "in the light of all the relevant circumstances". The court turned it down, arguing that the exclusivity rebates were by nature "incompatible with the objective of undistorted competition within the common market". This is significant because it might signal a new willingness of the European Court of Justice to question the European Commission's decisions and require an independent analysis of the impact on markets of alleged anticompetitive behavior.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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