Intel €1.06 billion fine overturned at EU General Court

After a second appeal opportunity, Intel has received a major court win to have an antitrust fine entirely annulled.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor
Image: Getty Images

Intel's €1.06 billion fine from over a decade ago has been overturned at Europe's second highest court, in what is a big win for the chipmaker.

The fine, ordered in 2019 by the European Commission, came off the back of allegations that Intel acted anticompetitively against AMD by giving rebates to computer manufacturers Dell, Hewlett Packard, and Lenovo to entice them into buying most of all or almost all of their chips from Intel.

The EU antitrust regulator also said Intel's decision to award payments to an European retailer on the condition it only sold computers containing Intel chips was also anticompetitive behaviour.

According to the European Commission, Intel performed these actions to unfairly squeeze out rivals.

The judgment, made at the EU General Court, outlines that the commission did not perform the appropriate economic analysis of Intel's alleged anticompetitive conduct when issuing the fine.

"The analysis carried out by the Commission is incomplete and, in any event, does not make it possible to establish to the requisite legal standard that the rebates at issue were capable of having, or were likely to have, anticompetitive effects, which is why the General Court annuls the decision," the EU General Court said.

"It annuls in its entirety the article of the contested decision which imposes on Intel a fine of €1.06 billion in respect of the infringement found.

The latest court decision is a backflip from one made in 2014 when the EU General Court had upheld the commission's fine. The 2014 decision was put into dispute, however, with the EU Court of Justice ordering a re-examination of Intel's appeal of the fine after it found an error in law within that decision.

The European Commission has not decided whether it will take any further action but it can appeal the judgment at the EU Court of Justice. 

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