Intel escapes €1.06bn antitrust fine... for the time being

Ellen Mills
September 8, 2017

It has also fined Google €2.4 billion for fiddling online shopping searches and has threatened to fine it €5 billion more on the way it sells its Android operating system.

The decision, which was hotly anticipated, could have potential implications for Qualcomm, a similar case involving rebates and Google, which is expected to announce its appeal of the massive Euro 2.4 billion fine imposed on the company by the EU Commission this year.

The CJEU therefore set aside the General Court's 2014 ruling and referred the case back to the lower court to look again at whether Intel's rebates "are capable of restricting competition".

The Commission said it would study the judgment carefully and that it was up to the General Court to review its decision.

Because of its ruling that exclusivity rebates were automatic infringements of Article 102 TFEU the GC did not consider all of Intel's arguments regarding the Commission's alternative analysis of the effects of the rebates on competition.

Today's ECJ ruling could mean dominant companies feel they have more flexibility in offering rebates to high-volume buyers, suggested Komninos - adding that that could ultimately lead to cheaper priced products for consumers.

But the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that all of the evidence in the case should be re-examined.

Intel was fined in 2009 when the Commission found that between 2002 and 2007, the company had offered incentives to computer makers Dell, Lenovo, HP and NEC if they bought all of their x86 microprocessors from Intel instead of a rival, AMD. The company allegedly gave rebates to computer manufacturers on condition that they bought all, or nearly all, their CPUs from Intel, making it hard for rivals to compete on price.

The Commission had imposed the fine in May 2009 claiming that the USA manufacturing giant which employs thousands of people in Leixlip, had abused its dominant position in the microchip market.

This morning the court kept the appeal against the fine alive by sending it back to the General Court. "We have always believed that our actions were lawful and did not harm competition".

"It was also the first major Article 102 judgment by the General Court after the Commission issued its guidance in 2009 on enforcement priorities in applying Article 102 to abusive exclusionary conduct".

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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