updated 07:50 am EDT, Wed May 13, 2009
Intel Fined 1 45B by EU
The European Commission today gave Intel a 1.06 billion Euro ($1.45 billion) fine for its alleged antitrust violations in the computer market. The fine is the largest ever applied by the EC against a company and is prompted by serious accusations hinted at in a late leak. Regulators charge that Intel sabotaged AMD's chances in the market place since 2002 by paying PC makers to either cancel or delay AMD-based systems, giving them illegal incentives to limit the number of AMD systems they sell, and paying at least one major retailer to stock only Intel-based models.
The ruling forces Intel to put a halt to any of these practices that might still be ongoing today and requires that the whole sum of the fine be paid within three months.
AMD's Europe, Middle East and Africa president Giuliano Meroni hailed the decision as a win for the public and called it a shift away from control by an "abusive monopolist." The rival, which has gained back some market share in recent months, also has a lawsuit against Intel in the US due to reach court in 2010.
As expected, Intel has publicly objected to the Commission's decision and plans to file an appeal. It contends that, with AMD and Intel as the only two major processor companies competing in Europe, any success on the part of one company was likely to directly hurt another. The company also denied trying to price AMD out of the market with below-cost chips and accused the EC's Directorate General for Competition of deliberately refusing to seek out any evidence that might have supported Intel's position.
"We believe the decision is wrong and ignores the reality of a highly competitive microprocessor marketplace," Intel chief Paul Otellini says. "There has been absolutely zero harm to consumers."
The Commission nonetheless supported its argument by pointing to similar tactics in Japan and Korea that led those countries' fair trade officials to apply similar punishment.