Intel wins review of European Union competition fine

Lucy Bush
September 7, 2017

The decision is a slap for a European Commission which has not lost a major anti-trust case in decades. It raised six grounds of appeal, three of which were considered by the CJEU in its ruling.

Intel is among the few companies to have continued a battle against a European Commission fine all the way to the top EU court.

When deciding to issue its fine to Intel in 2009, the Commission determined that a competitor to Intel which was as efficient as the company "would have had to offer a price for its CPUs [central processing units] lower than its costs of producing those CPUs, even if the average price of its CPUs was lower than that of Intel".

However, Intel appealed against the General Court's decision to the CJEU.

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"The Court therefore sets aside the judgment of the General Court as a result of that failure", the ECJ said on Wednesday.

On remand, the General Court must consider Intel's argument about whether the rebates were capable of restricting competition. However, it could also give hope to American technology companies facing antitrust investigations and potential penalties to challenge European Commission decisions in European courts.

It has fined Facebook €110 million for misleading it over its takeover of WhatsApp, a phone messaging firm.

Google, which was hit with a 2.42 billion euro fine in June for favouring its own shopping service, is also under fire over its Android smartphone operating system and online search advertising.

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Meanwhile, Wednesday's ECJ ruling rejected Intel's claim that the Commission had acted outside its jurisdiction.

The ECJ ruled that the lower court had failed to fully examine all of Intel's arguments over the methods by which the Commission had concluded that Intel's rivals were indeed being frozen out of the market.

"This is certainly a defeat for the European Commission and indicates a certain relaxation of the formalistic case law on abuse of dominance", he said in a statement.

In its ruling today, the European Court of Justice found that the General Court had missed a few things, including addressing Intel's criticisms of the test.

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