Back in 2009, the European Commission hit Intel with a $1.45 billion fine for violating Europe’s antitrust laws. The chipmaker appealed the decision in the hope of escaping the costly punishment, or at least see it reduced. But the courts refused in 2014. Now, the views of a top EU court adviser is giving Intel’s battle a boost.
Advocate General Nils Wahl offered the opinion that the EU General Court’s dismissal of Intel’s appeal was the wrong decision, and that the case should be heard again.
"Intel's appeal against the imposition of a 1.06 billion euro fine for abuse of its dominant position should be upheld. The case should be referred back to the General Court for a fresh review," Wahl said in a non-binding recommendation.
Between 2002 and 2007, Intel gave rebates to tech firms such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo, and paid a German retailer, Media Saturn, to stock only Intel-based PCs. The EU courts said this was anticompetitive and “a strategy aimed at foreclosing a competitor, AMD, from the market for x86 CPU microprocessors."
Nils said that the rebates did not prevent the companies from buying processors from Intel rivals such as AMD, which brought the original complaint in 2000. He added that the court had failed to establish how Intel’s actions had harmed competition in the EU.
A ruling from The Court of Justice of the European Union is expected in the coming months. Should it agree with Nils, other ongoing EU anticompetitive cases involving Qualcomm, Apple, Google, and Amazon could be affected.
To find out more about the Intel vs. AMD rivalry that resulted in this case, check out our Biggest Rivalries in Computing History feature.