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Intel fights $1.2 billion fine

by on11 March 2020

Wants EU to admit it got it wrong

Chipzilla has claimed EU antitrust regulators got it wrong when they fined it 1.06 billion euro more than a decade ago for thwarting AMD.

The US company set out its arguments at the General Court in a re-hearing of a case seen as testing the European Commission’s power to go after US tech giants which offer incentives such as rebates to lure customers from competitors.

EU antitrust enforcers in 2009 said Intel tried to block AMD by giving rebates to computer makers Dell, HP, NEC and Lenovo for buying most of their chips from Intel.

The General Court is hearing the case for the second time after the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe’s highest, in 2017 disagreed with its 2014 ruling backing the Commission’s decision, in a major setback to the EU competition watchdog.

It told the lower tribunal to re-examine the case and whether exclusivity rebates harmed competition.

Chipzilla’s lawyer Daniel Beard told the panel of five judges that the ruling was fundamentally flawed.

“The Commission either took a wrong approach in its decision or it carried out an as efficient competitor (AEC) test and it got it wrong”, he said.

An AEC test is an economic analysis that determines if a dominant company knocks out competitors that are as efficient or more efficient through anti-competitive practices while pushing out a less efficient rival may not be problematic for regulators.

Commission lawyer Nicholas Khan slammed Intel for seeking to re-open the entire case.

“That was assessed very exhaustively in 2014. Intel’s request is a second bite at the cherry”, he told judges.

The Association for Competitive Technology is supporting Intel while French consumer body UFC is backing the Commission. A judgment is likely to come next year while the losing party can appeal to the CJEU.

The case could have a knock on for other appears by big US tech. Qualcomm has challenged a 997 million euro EU fine for paying iPhone maker Apple to use only its chips, blocking out rivals such as Intel.

Alphabet unit Google has also challenged a record 4.34 billion euro EU antitrust fine levied for using its Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals.

Last modified on 11 March 2020
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