Intel has emerged triumphant (for now) in a long-running antitrust case that once saw the chipmaker slapped with a record-breaking fine by the European Commission. The General Court, Europe’s second highest court, has overturned the €1.06 billion fine levied against the company way back in 2009. Back then, the Commission determined that Intel abused its dominant position in the market and harmed its rivals by offering manufacturers such as HP, Dell and Lenovo incentives for using its microprocessors instead of those from rival AMD’s.
The company, of course, appealed the decision, but the General Court upheld the fine in 2014. Intel had a game plan to shut out AMD from the market and “attempted to conceal the anti-competitive nature of (those) practices,” the court said. In 2017, however, the highest court in the European Union ordered the fine to be re-examined. It sent the case back down to the General Court on the grounds that the Commission didn’t consider conducting an economic assessment on how Intel’s activity impacted its rival’s ability to compete against it.
Now, the General Court has issued its decision, in which it confirmed that the Commission carried out an incomplete analysis of the company’s rebate scheme all those years ago. As such, it’s not possible to establish whether the rebates Intel offered the manufacturers were “capable of having, or were likely to have, anticompetitive effects.” The General Court has also decided that it’s not in a position to identify how much fine Intel has to pay, so it has scrapped both the decision and the fine levied against the chipmaker.
It’s a major victory for the company that’s currently trying to catch up to AMD while also dealing with the global supply chain shortage. According to The Wall Street Journal, though, the decision could still be appealed, and it would return to the Court of Justice if that happens.
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