Intel victory over €1bn fine poses problems for Brussels

Intel victory over €1bn fine poses problems for Brussels

"The case is referred back to the General Court in order for it to examine the arguments put forward by Intel concerning the capacity of the rebates at issue to restrict competition", the ECJ said. The Brussels-based antitrust regulator accused the company of using discounts to hurt Advanced Micro Devices Inc., a decision backed by a lower European Union court in 2014.

The European Commission imposed the fine in 2009, finding that the US - based microchip manufacturer abused its dominant position for the x86 CPU.

It found that Intel had given wholly or partially hidden rebates to PC manufacturers such as Dell and Lenovo for using its chips rather than those of rival AMD, and that Intel had also directly paid computer manufacturers to scrap or delay the launch of products using non-Intel chips.

The decision is a slap for a European Commission which has not lost a major anti-trust case in decades.

The blow to the European Commission could have implications for other open investigations into pricing by dominant companies including cases against Google and Qualcomm, the telecommunications equipment supplier.

An Intel victory could have direct bearing on a similar Commission case involving payments by USA chip maker Qualcomm to computer firm Apple.

More news: Marin Cilic knocked out of the US Open by Diego Schwartzman

The CJEU's decision to ask the General Court to look again at the case is in line with the advice given to it in a non-binding opinion issued by an advocate general to the court in October previous year, and is the latest stage in a long history of the case. The EU is also probing Alphabet Inc.'s Google over concerns it abuses its dominance with its Android operating service by strong-arming phone makers and telecom companies into favoring Google's search engine and browser on their devices.

It could also give dominant companies more freedom over how they offer rebates and discounts.

The EU General Court is now slated to examine Intel's arguments that it did not violate antitrust laws, raising the possibility for the chipmaker to avoid paying the $1.26 billion in full.

The Commission and Intel said on Wednesday's they were analysing the verdict and that it was too early to comment.

However, Intel appealed against the General Court's decision to the CJEU.

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