After a hiatus which took exactly three years, Intel is now beginning to pursue its appeal against the huge fine imposed by the European Commission in 2009. The largest monetary penalty ever decided by the EU for anti-competitive behaviour has no ground at all, Chipzilla’s lawyers stated.
The European antitrust regulators fined Intel for 1.06 billion dollars (now 1.34 billions due to the current economic situation) after they found the company guilty of having crushed the competitors business (ie AMD) by exploiting large rebates and restrictive contracts meant to force the adoption of its CPUs by PC OEM manufacturers.
Intel fought the alleged anti-competitive behaviour accusations straightaway, and now its lawyers are being heard by the five-judge panel of the EU General Court in Luxembourg. Before the European appeal court – the second highest court of Europe after the Court of Justice – Intel dismissed any wrongdoing and called the Commission accusations groundless.
“The quality of evidence relied on by the Commission is profoundly inadequate”, Intel’s lawyers said, “the analysis is hopelessly and irretrievably defective. The Commission’s case turns on what customers’ subjective understanding is”.
Predictably, the EU lawyers had another story to tell the five judges: the kind of rebates offered by Intel “can only be intended to tie customers and put competitors in an unfavourable position”, lawyer Nicholas Khan said, further adding that the American microchip manufacturer “carefully camouflaged its anti-competitive practices”.
Now that the initial arguments have been heard, the appeal can go on according to the schedule. The case should last a few months, after that the General Court will have to rule in favour or against Intel arguments.