Saturday, May 28

European justice knocks down the fine of 1,060 million to Intel

The analysis of the European Commission on the monopolistic abuses of the microprocessor giant intel, which was settled more than a decade ago with a fine of 1,060 million euros, “is incomplete & rdquor; and “it does not allow to demonstrate in a legally sufficient way that the conditional discounts granted by Intel could or could produce anti-competitive effects & rdquor ;. It is the conclusion reached by the General Court of the EU which, after a long legal battle that began in 2009, has annulled the multimillion-dollar sanction and inflicted a new corrective on the European competition services.

Brussels decided to act against the American giant on May 13, 2009 after verifying that between October 2002 and December 2007 the multinational had applied a strategy aimed at excluding competitors from the market. The European competition services alleged two types of abusive business conduct: conditional restrictions and discounts. For the latter, the company offered discounts to four strategic OEMs (Dell, Lenovo, HP, and NEC) on the condition that they purchase all or nearly all of the x86 processors.

The European Commission also accused Intel of having made payments to the European electronics distributor Media-Saturn so that the company would exclusively sell computers equipped with x86 processors, in order to guarantee its loyalty and reduce the capacity of other competitors. According to the community conclusion, all this made Intel contribute to reducing the offer for European consumers and the incentives to innovate.

long court battle

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The result was the well-known millionaire fine and the beginning of a long legal battle, with resources and sentences that concluded with a first conviction and an appeal from the multinational, which in June 2014 saw how the Court of Justice of the EU gave it reason and remanded the case to the General Court. This Wednesday the European court has finally given him the reason when considering that the analytical work carried out by the Commission was incomplete and did not sufficiently demonstrate that the controversial conditional discounts had negative effects on competition.

The sentence, which can still be appealed in cassation before the Court of Justice although limited to questions of law, also confirms the complete annulment of the sanction against Intel by estimating that the amount corresponding only to the manifest restrictions cannot be identified. Brussels has two months and ten days from receipt of notification of the ruling to appeal. “The fact that we have lost a case that is more than a decade old means that we need to study in detail to see what we can learn from this CJEU ruling. We will need some time to evaluate the sentence & rdquor ;, said the vice president of the Commission and head of competition, Margrethe Vestager.