EU top court to rule on 2009 Intel antitrust fine on Wednesday

Posted on Tuesday, September 05 2017 @ 16:21 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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Legal cases in Europe can move very slowly so it's probably not a surprise that the old antitrust lawsuit against Intel is still ongoing. As you may remember, Intel was slapped by a huge 1.06 billion EUR fine in 2009 for anti-competitive practices versus AMD. At that time, the European Commission decided Intel provided illegal rebates to large PC OEMs to squeeze AMD out of the market.

After a number of appeals over the years thereafter, the case is now in the hands of Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ). A lower court upheld the decision of the EU's competition authority but last year an ECJ court adviser took Intel's side.

The EU's top court is expected to make a final decision about the appeal on Wednesday. If the ECJ picks Intel's side, the decision could have profound implications for ongoing cases, including the 2.4 billion EUR fine that was levied on Google earlier this year:
An adverse ruling for the Commission on Wednesday could result in a radical review of ongoing cases, said Andrew Ward, a partner at Madrid-based law firm Cuatrecasas.

“A loss in such a high-profile case would be embarrassing (for the regulator),” he said, adding that it might mean that long-established theories and processes would need to be reassessed.

“Losing against Intel would clearly be a blow to the Commission and a confidence boost for Google, since on the face of it the theory of harm is much more established in the Intel case.”
Reuters reports a ruling that goes against the European Commission would be a rare departure for the ECJ. Last year, Intel got a boost of confidence as ECJ court adviser Nils Wahl questioned whether the chip giant's actions really hurt competition. Reuters reports the ECJ follows such recommendations in four out of five cases, so this could get pretty interesting.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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