Intel Back in Court to Fight EU's 2009 $1.4 Billion Fine
Intel lawyers told the European Union's Court of Justice that antitrust regulators erred in their decision and that the fine is unfair.Intel is continuing to fight the $1.4 billion fine levied seven years ago by European regulators who said the giant chip maker used its dominant position in the market to illegally try to keep PC makers from using processors from rival Advanced Micro Devices. Two years after the company lost its bid in the European Union General Court to have the fine overturned or lowered, Intel lawyers are back in court arguing that the European Commission (EC)—the antitrust arm of the European Union—was wrong when it ruled that Intel acted improperly in offering loyalty rebates to PC makers like Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Lenovo and NEC between 2002 and 2005 to buy 95 percent of the chips for their systems from Intel. In addition, Intel was accused of putting stringent restrictions on the other 5 percent of PCs not using its processors, and of paying Media-Saturn, a retail chain in Germany, to only sell systems powered by Intel chips. Regulators argued that Intel's business practices effectively shut out AMD from participating in the European PC market and deprived PC makers and end users of being able to take advantage of lower prices that may have been available had the competitive playing field not been tilted in favor of Intel. Along with the fine, antitrust regulators also ordered Intel to stop offering illegal rebates.
Intel officials have been vocal in disputing the claims, saying that the company competed aggressively against AMD and others, but that its business practices never violated antitrust or other laws. It is an argument they've continued to make during the appeals process, which started three years after the initial EC decision and fine was announced.