INTEL suffered a heavy blow yesterday as it lost its challenge against a record €1.06bn (£852m) fine imposed by EU antitrust regulators as a result of its efforts to block rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) from the lucrative computer chips market.
The massive fine, the highest ever inflicted on a company in an antitrust case by the European Commission (EC), was challenged by Intel in 2012 as it sought to get the decision overturned, but judges at the General Court based in Luxembourg disappointed Intel by dismissing their claim entirely yesterday. The judges fully upheld the EC’s original decision and deeming the fine “appropriate” for the scale of Intel's anti-competitive actions and efforts to conceal them.
The EC found in a 2009 ruling that Intel had "abused its dominant position" in the x86 computer chips market, in which the US giant accounted for around a 70 per cent share of the worldwide market at the time, by offering rebates to major PC manufacturers, including Dell, HP, NEC and Lenovo, if they agreed to commit to buy the vast majority or all of their x86 CPU chips from Intel.
The EC also found that Intel paid manufacturers HP, Acer and Lenovo if they agreed to delay, reduce or even cancel the launch of products using AMD chips and also giving payments to retailer Media Market if it agreed to only sell PCs containing Intel chips, actions that the EC stated had harmed consumers by denying them choice.
With its appeal to the General Court exhausted, Intel still has the option to appeal to the EU Court of Justice, but only on a point of law.