Intel ‘Very Disappointed’ After It Loses Antitrust Appeal

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

An EU court has crushed Intel’s bid to overturn its record-breaking antitrust fine

More bad news for Intel’s finances, after a European court overturned its appeal against the €1.06 billion (£846m) antitrust fine levied by the European Commission in 2009.

Intel filed its appeal after European regulators opted to impose a massive fine on the chipmaker because of its alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

Appeal Overturned

That behaviour was reportedly an attempt to limit the systems makers’ use of chips from rival chipmaker, Advanced Micro Devices. AMD settled its legal dispute with Intel in November 2009. Intel paid AMD $1.25 billion (£772m) and agreed to a set of business practice provisions.

But European officials took a dim view of the fact that Intel had offered rebates to PC makers such as Dell, Lenovo, NEC, and HP in exchange for their commitment to acquire the bulk of their x86 CPUs from Intel.

Intel-LogoAnd this week the European General Court has decided to uphold the ant-trust fine, the largest ever imposed by European officials on a single company.

“Intel’s action against the Commission’s decision is dismissed in its entirety,” said the court in its ruling. “Intel’s anti-competitive conduct thereby resulted in a reduction of consumer choice and in lower incentives to innovate.”

It also said that Intel had offered payments to HP, Lenovo and Acer to cancel or postpone the launch of AMD-based products.

And perhaps more damaging to Intel’s reputation is the court’s decision to back European regulator claims that Intel had tried to conceal its anti-competitive practices.

“In the view of the General Court, the Commission demonstrated to the requisite legal standard that Intel attempted to conceal the anti-competitive nature of its practices and implemented a long term comprehensive strategy to foreclose AMD from the strategically most important sales channels,” it said.

Very Disappointed

“Finally, the General Court considers that none of the arguments raised by Intel supports the conclusion that the fine imposed is disproportionate. On the contrary, it must be considered that that fine is appropriate in the light of the facts of the case.”

“We are very disappointed with the decision,” a spokesman for Intel told the Daily Telegraph. “This is a complex case and the decision reflects that. We have begun the process of evaluating the Court’s judgement.”

Intel still can appeal the case to Europe’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, which issues rulings that can’t be overturned.

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