In a landmark victory for Intel, Europe’s top court has acquitted the chipmaker of a $1.2 billion fine imposed by EU antitrust regulators. Intel was originally slapped with the penalty back in 2009 for attempting to limit AMD’s influence in the notebook market. As per the regulatory agencies, the chip giant was offering rebates to OEMs, most notably Dell, HP, and, Lenovo for buying the majority of their chips from it, thereby sidelining AMD.
In all honesty, though, AMD didn’t have any competitive offerings in the mobile segment, to begin with. Less than a handful of APUs were being sold in the budget and low-end market, and that too with extremely slim margins.
The Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe’s second-highest, criticized the EU competition enforcer’s analysis and annulled the fine.
The (European) Commission’s analysis is incomplete and does not make it possible to establish to the requisite legal standard that the rebates at issue were capable of having, or likely to have anticompetitive effects.
The court annulled the entire article of the contested decision which imposed a fine of 1.06 billion euros on Intel for the infringement.
In response, the commission said it would study the judgment and reflect on the possible next steps. It would be fair to say that this case has blown over, and Intel can breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately for regulators, this just complicates matters, setting the bar higher for the Commission in bringing dominance cases. It will also have to do an effects-based analysis for each case. Overall, this will have an impact on all companies.