Intel appeals EC's antitrust fine

In filing for a new deal with the European Commission, Intel said "We believe the Commission ignored the realities of the microprocessor market, which is highly competitive."
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor
Intel has lodged an appeal against an antitrust fine levied against it by the European Commission in May.

The microprocessor firm lodged its appeal against the €1.06 billion ($1.7 billion) fine in the European Court of First Instance on Wednesday - although the company has not yet revealed the precise legal basis for the appeal.

"We felt the EC decision was incorrect, and that evidence was ignored or misinterpreted," an Intel spokesperson told silicon.com sister site ZDNet UK on Thursday. "We believe the Commission ignored the realities of the microprocessor market, which is highly competitive."

However, the Commission said on Thursday that it had made the right decision in levying the fine. "The Commission is confident its antitrust decision is legally watertight," a spokesman for the commission told ZDNet UK.

In May, the Commission found that Intel had made direct payments to Media Saturn Holding, which owns the European electronics retail chain, Media Markt. The Commission said the payments were designed to ensure that Media Markt would only stock computers with Intel x86 chips.

However, at the time, Intel senior vice president Bruce Sewell denied making any direct payments to retailers or customers, saying Intel had made discounts or "incentives in the form of funds to launch marketing campaigns". Sewell also denied that Intel had put any conditions on the rebates it offered to computer manufacturers.

On Thursday, Intel's spokesperson said consumers had actively benefited from the workings of the microprocessor market.

"Since the Commission investigation started in 2001, [chip] prices have fallen by more than half," said the spokesperson. "We think consumers have benefited from falling prices."

Intel on Thursday declined to give any specific details of the legal grounds for its complaint against the Commission decision. However, ZDNet UK understands that the European Court of First Instance will publish details of the appeal in several weeks' time.

This article was originally posted on ZDNet UK.

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