The European Commission's lengthy investigation has resulted in a record fine for Intel who must pay €1.06 billion ($1.45 billion), after being found guilty of violating antitrust laws in Europe. According to the Commission, between 2002 and 2007 the chip maker paid manufacturers and a retailer to favor its products over rival AMD's. The fine dwarfs Microsoft’s, who was ordered to pay €427 million ($663 million) back in 2004 for abusing its market dominance.
Intel’s greatest adversary brought the case to the EU’s attention back in 2000, with additional complaints filed in 2003 and 2006. The Commission believes that Intel had dispensed hidden rebates to Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC if they agreed to only use Intel chips. Furthermore, Media Saturn, who owns Europe’s largest consumer electronics retailer Media Markt, had been paid to exclusively sell computers with Intel processors.
In a statement, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes affirmed that “Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for many years.” In an unsurprising response to the ruling, CEO Paul Otellini stated that “Intel takes a strong exception to this decision. We believe the decision is wrong and ignores the reality of a highly competitive microprocessor marketplace.” He went on to deny that any harm had been caused to consumers, and that Intel would appeal the decision.