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European court to review $1.3B fine against Intel

07 September 2017

"The case is referred back to the General Court in order for it to examine the arguments put forward by Intel concerning the capacity of the rebates at issue to restrict competition", the ECJ said in a statement.

Though Intel challenged the commission's fine, the European General Court dismissed Intel's appeal in 2014.

It found that Intel had given wholly or partially hidden rebates to PC manufacturers such as Dell and Lenovo for using its chips rather than those of rival AMD, and that Intel had also directly paid computer manufacturers to scrap or delay the launch of products using non-Intel 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.

Led by competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, Brussels has accused Google of breaking anti-trust laws by forcing or enticing mobile phone manufacturers to pre-load Google services on their devices.

The lower court will need to examine whether rebates used by the company could have restricted competition - likely meaning there are years more left in a legal saga that has already clocked up more than eight years of appeals.

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For that infringement of European Union competition rules, the Commission fined Intel €1.06 billion and ordered it to end the infringement.

Regulators have generally frowned upon rebates, especially those offered by dominant companies, on the theory they are anti-competitive in nature.

Intel apparently made payments to Media-Saturn on the condition that it sell only computers containing Intel's x86 CPUs.

The judge, Nils Wahl, questioned whether there was substantial evidence that the company's actions actually harmed competition, saying: "Intel's appeal against the imposition of a €1.06bn fine for abuse of its dominant position should be upheld".

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

In June, the European Commission hit Google with a record fine of €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) for violating antitrust regulations.

European court to review $1.3B fine against Intel