Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Intel Wins A Round In $1.26 Billion Dollar Fight With EU

Intel claims a victory against EU over €1bn antitrust fine after ECJ ruling EU court orders Intel antitrust fine to be re-examined
Sammy Stanley | 08 September, 2017, 00:45

European Court of Justice (ECJ) judges said the lower court, known as the General Court, should focus on Intel's arguments that rebates to customers were not anti-competitive.

The European Court of Justice yesterday (6 September 2017) ruled that Intel's appeal should now be re-examined because the judges in the appeal case had failed to properly analyse the economic aspects of the case.

The decision, which was hotly anticipated, could have potential implications for Qualcomm, a similar case involving rebates and Google, which is expected to announce its appeal of the massive Euro 2.4 billion fine imposed on the company by the EU Commission this year.

Not only has this move made the final status of the now $1.5 billion-plus (exchange rates and inflation) fine uncertain, it also emboldens other companies now sparring with the European Union in trade court, chief among them Google, who was recently fined around $2.5 billion dollars for antitrust activity stemming from its dominance of the search industry.

The judgment provides welcome clarity for dominant firms, applying an effects-based approach for all types of rebates and removing the formalistic exception that the European Commission and General Court applied to exclusivity rebates.

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 a year ago, and is the latest stage in a long history of the case.

In 2009 Intel was slammed with a €1bn ($1.26bn) fine for allegedly urging computer makers to use its chips over rival AMD processors through exclusivity incentives.

In June, the European Commission hit Google with a record fine of €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) for violating antitrust regulations. Intel had also paid a major electronics retail group, Germany's Media Saturn Holding, to only stock PCs with Intel inside.

Intel declined to immediately comment, saying it needed to study the ruling first. The ECJ has sent this aspect of the case back to the GC for reconsideration. 'Intel now has to continue its court battle, and considering the nature and complexity of its challenge of the AEC test I would be surprised if a judgment came out before the 10th anniversary of the lodging of Intel's appeal.

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