Will Intel face antitrust case in Australia?

AMD wins in Europe as the European Commission fines Intel $1.45 billion for anti-competitive behavior. Will AMD try to repeat its success Down Under?
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor
AMD has not ruled out moving its battle against Intel's antitrust behavior onto Australian soil.

The European Commission Wednesday fined Intel more than €1 billion ($1.45 billion) for violating antitrust legislation after receiving complaints from rival AMD.

The EU found that Intel had been illegally keeping AMD out of the market by giving rebates to computer manufacturers on condition that they bought all their CPUs from Intel and making payments to manufacturers to delay the launch of specific products containing competitors' CPUs.

AMD said it had never filed an antitrust complaint against Intel in Australia, but would not confirm or deny whether the company would consider filing a complaint in the country given the European win.

In place of a direct answer, ZDNet.com.au received a statement from Ben Williams, AMD corporate VP Asia Pacific. "Today, I would like to focus our attention on this important ruling by the EU. I wish to highlight the EU ruling is about consumers, who were hurt by Intel's illegal conduct, but now will benefit from greater choice, innovation and value. Fair and open competition spurs competitors to innovate faster and to price more competitively. That means that consumers will be the direct beneficiaries of the EC ruling," he said.

The Intel case has not been the only antitrust case in Europe, with Microsoft stepping often into the firing line. Qualcomm also gained the Commission's attention.

Across the Atlantic, the US has also seen antitrust legislation exercized liberally to keep technology giants fair. Microsoft, Intel and Oracle have all come under scrutiny.

Australia, however, has not seen antitrust action against any of these players, despite the fact that it has strong trading relationships with both jurisdictions and has formed an agreement to share antitrust information with the US.

When asked why this was so, and whether the government would seek a stronger stance on antitrust in technology, spokespeople for Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy and Innovation Minister Kim Carr directed the queries elsewhere.

The ACCC declined to comment as it could not give out any information on investigations that might or might not occur in the future.

Competition Minister Chris Bowen's office has as yet not been able to provide comment.

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