Published: Thu, September 07, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

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

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

The ECJ said in a statement that the lower court failed to examine whether Intel's rebates to other companies restricted competition.

Intel is among the few companies to have continued a battle against a European Commission fine all the way to the top EU court.

The decision could embolden companies challenging the European Commission, the bloc's antitrust authority, in court over competition decisions-cases the regulator typically wins. Intel had given the rebates to computer manufacturers, presumably to keep them from using AMD chips.

Google is now awaiting decisions from the commission in regard to two more competition cases over its Android operating system and Adsense advertising tools.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has now ruled that the case should be sent back to a lower court to be re-examined. The verdict means Intel has escaped the original fine for now, although the case could drag on for many more years.

Google's case has more similarities than Apple's, but USA tech multinationals have long complained that fines are politically motivated, and will be cheered by a decision in Intel's favour.

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The activity by Intel that was deemed by the Commission to have breached European Union competition law dates back to between 2002 and 2007.

The EU General Court is now slated to examine Intel's arguments that it did not violate antitrust laws, raising the possibility for the chipmaker to avoid paying the $1.26 billion in full.

The General Court in its 2014 ruling upheld the European Commission's 2009 decision but past year a court adviser recommended backing Intel's arguments.

"Companies will be more confident when they go to the Commission and more corporations will have the appetite to take the Commission to court on effects-based arguments", he said.

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. It was fined €1.06 billion, a record sum until the Commission hit Google with a €2.42 billion sanction in June.

The US tech giant, which has its European manufacturing headquarters in Leixlip, Co Kildare, appealed the fine to the General Court in Luxembourg.

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