European Union court orders re-examination of €1.06B Intel fine

Intel claims a victory against EU over €1bn antitrust fine after ECJ ruling

It could also force the commission to re-examine its strategy in several ongoing cases.

The case being considered on Wednesday centred on claims that Intel had abused its dominant position in the microchip market. That could make it harder for the commission when it seeks to lodge another such antitrust case.

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

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The outcome could have major implications for similar anti-trust cases that have been taken against other tech giants such as Google and Qualcomm. Google has said it is considering an appeal. By sending the case back to the EU General Court, the Court of Justice effectively sent a message to the Commission that it will have to look more closely at effects-based arguments, thereby raising the burden of proof on investigators and shifting it away from the company in question.

The EU's investigation found that Intel hindered competition by giving rebates to computer makers from 2002 until 2005 if they bought at least 95 percent of PC chips from Intel. As a result, it may also unintentionally make rules for compliance murkier. The tech company then brought an appeal against the General Court's judgment before the Court of Justice.

Intel appealed, but the fine was upheld in 2014.

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Steven R. Rodgers, Intel's general counsel, said: "While this case concerns events that happened more than a decade ago, we have always believed that our actions were lawful and did not harm competition".

In 2009, the European Union fined Intel Corp. a record 1.06 billion euros (currently worth $1.26 billion), saying the world's biggest computer chip maker used illegal sales tactics to shut out smaller rival AMD. In 2009, evidence showed that the company had offered rebates and incentives to computer makers to favor their products over their rival, Advanced Micro Devices.

Intel also awarded payments to the electronics retail group Media-Saturn in order that the group would sell only those computers containing Intel's x86 CPUs. The court turned it down, arguing that the exclusivity rebates were by nature "incompatible with the objective of undistorted competition within the common market".

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The CJEU concluded that the General Court had erred in law by failing to examine the rebates Intel had provided "in the light of all the relevant circumstances".

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