EU Top Court Orders Re-examination Of Intel Anti-trust Fine

Intel scores victory in fight against €1.06bn AMD antitrust fine

A reversal Wednesday from Europe's highest court upended a $1.2 billion fine against Intel for cornering the market on a certain central processing unit.

The ECJ said in a statement that the lower court failed to examine whether Intel's rebates to other companies restricted competition. Intel had given the rebates to computer manufacturers, presumably to keep them from using AMD chips. The European Commission in 2009 argued that Intel violated the bloc's antitrust rules because dominant companies' use of rebates are by nature restrictive of competition.

The General Court's new treatment of Intel's appeal is likely to add between two to four years to the process, making the case more than a decade old before it is finally decided.

Intel was accused of engaging in illegal, anti-competitive practices to exclude competitors from the market for CPUs.

Google's case has more similarities than Apple's, but United States tech multinationals have long complained that fines are politically motivated, and will be cheered by a decision in Intel's favour. The EU is also probing Alphabet Inc.'s Google over concerns it abuses its dominance with its Android operating service by strong-arming phone makers and telecom companies into favoring Google's search engine and browser on their devices.

The chipmaker fared better before the European Court of Justice, which found Wednesday that the General Court neglected to examine all of Intel's arguments concerning what is known as the efficient competitor test.

At the time, the Commission also said that Intel had paid three computer manufacturers to delay, cancel or restrict the launch or distribution of computers containing CPUs made by AMD. Intel claimed that the General Court erred in law when reaching its decision to uphold the fine imposed by the Commission.

That case is separate from the Google Shopping case in which the European Union inflicted a record fine on the Silicon Valley giant for illegally favouring its shopping service in search results.

"The commission takes note of today's ruling by the European Court of Justice and will study the judgment carefully", the commission said.

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