Intel Scores Victory (For Now) In Fight Against $1.3 Billion Fine

Intel claims a victory against EU over €1bn antitrust fine after ECJ ruling

EU court orders Intel antitrust fine to be re-examined

Intel has won a small victory in its appeal against the Euro 1 billion competition fine levied against the company by the European Union in 2009.

The fine of Euro 1.06 billion against Intel was for abuse of its dominant position on the market for computer chips.

Robert Eriksson, a competition law expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "It would be a significant blow for the Commission if the General Court in its re-examination of the case finds that the Commission made errors in its analysis, as it is a major precedent as regards what types of rebates are abusive".

This isn't just good news for Intel, as the ECJ's ruling could force the Commission to re-examine its tough line approach in other antitrust cases, such as those against Qualcomm and Google.

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As Intel had submitted to the Commission that its conduct was not capable of restricting competition by producing the alleged foreclosure effects, the CJEU said the Commission was required to analyse, for example, the share of the market covered by the challenged practice, the conditions for granting the rebates, their duration and their amount.

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

An Intel victory could have direct bearing on a similar Commission case involving payments by U.S. chip maker Qualcomm to computer firm Apple.

In its ruling today, the European Court of Justice found that the General Court had missed a few things, including addressing Intel's criticisms of the test.

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It could also give dominant companies more freedom over how they offer rebates and discounts.

The microchip giant then appealed to the General Court, second only to the European Court of Justice, but lost the case in 2014. The European Commission had taken the position that they were and had imposed the fine.

Intel also awarded payments to the electronics retail group Media-Saturn in order that the group would sell only those computers containing Intel's x86 CPUs.

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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