Published: Thu, September 07, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

EU top court orders re-evaluation of Intel anti-trust fine

EU top court orders re-evaluation of Intel anti-trust fine

Over the last few years, Intel has had a massive €1.06 billion fine looming over its head after the European Commission ruled that the company had violated antitrust laws.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the bloc's highest court, ruled that the General Court, a lower tribunal, should reconsider an appeal by USA microchip maker Intel.

The decision could embolden companies challenging the European Commission, the bloc's antitrust authority, in court over competition decisions-cases the regulator typically wins.

"The Court of Justice sets aside the judgment of the General Court, which had upheld the fine of 1.06 billion euros imposed on Intel by the Commission for abuse of a dominant position", the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice (ECJ) said. The EC takes that view that Intel had tried to block rival chipmaker AMD by giving rebates to PC makers for buying most of their computer chips from Intel. "While the Intel case is about rebates, all major corporates being investigated by the European Commission can take this as a positive sign".

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The ruling could have ramifications for other cases, including the regulator's antitrust probe into Qualcomm Inc., which it accuses of illegally paying Apple exclusively use its chips and selling chips below cost to force a competitor, Icera Inc., out of the market.

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

The lower court would have to examine on whether or not the rebates are actually restricting competition.

The General Court had backed the Commission and rejected Intel's initial appeal in its entirety.

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The General Court ruled that there was nothing to change, so Intel bumped the appeal to the European Court of Justice.

In an email to AFP, an European Union spokesman said the commission "takes note of today's ruling. and will study the judgement carefully".

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.

Google, which was hit with a 2.42 billion euro fine in June for favouring its own shopping service, is also under fire over its Android smartphone operating system and online search advertising.

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