updated 10:41 am EDT, Thu June 12, 2014
Second-highest European court sides with EC over Intel anti-competitive behavior fine
Intel must pay a 1.06 billion euro ($1.44 billion) fine handed to it by the European Union five years ago, the second-highest court in Europe has ordered. Judges based at the General Court in Luxembourg stood by the fine, issued by the European Commission in 2009 over anti-competitive behavior designed to squeeze AMD out of the processor market.
At the time of the original fine, regulators claimed Intel had been providing illegal incentives to PC manufacturers to use Intel processors instead of AMD versions since 2002. These included paying at least one major retailer to stock only Intel-based computers, and giving rebates to Dell, HP, NEC, and Lenovo on chip purchases. Intel appealed the fine, claiming the decision "ignores the reality that the microprocessor market is highly competitive" at the time.
The 300-page decision by the court, received by Reuters, notes "The Commission demonstrated to the requisite legal standard that Intel attempted to conceal the anti-competitive nature of its practices and implemented a long-term comprehensive strategy to foreclose AMD from the strategically most important sales channels. The fine, 4.15 percent of Intel's turnover in 2008, was deemed not to be excessive, as the Commission had the option of raising it to a maximum fine of 10 percent.
"We are very disappointed about the decision. It's a complex case which is reflected in the decision," advised Intel spokeswoman Sophie Jacobs, with the manufacturer now deciding how best to proceed.
While there is only one higher court in Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union, Intel is only able to proceed to that court on points of law, with any ruling at that stage that could potentially alter the result likely to refer back to the General Court.