Intel has disputed a previous 1.06 billion euros fine it received from the European Commission. According to the chipmaker, antitrust regulators in the EU made a mistake by punishing the company for anti-competitive tactics against a smaller rival.
The case in question comes from over a decade ago and is now being contested by Intel. All eyes in the tech world are on the appeal because it could have a profound effect on other companies facing regulatory hurdles in Europe.
In 2009, the EU found Intel had attempted to block British company, Advanced Micro Devices, from competing by giving rebates to major computer manufacturers including HP, Lenovo, and Dell. Intel provided these rebates when the companies purchased its chips.
The company appealed the decision in 2014, but the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) upheld the ruling. However, in 2017 the CJEU changed its mind and the case is now back before the General Court. Specifically, the court must now determine whether the rebates actually did harm competition.
Many view the case as important because it could have an impact on how the commission pursues U.S. companies that provide such incentives. Certainly, the case being effectively re-opened is a blow for the European Commission watchdogs.
Intel's lawyer, Daniel Beard, told the five judges in the General Court that the original decision was flawed.
“The Commission either took a wrong approach in its decision or it carried out an as efficient competitor (AEC) test and it got it wrong,” he said.
AEC's are economic analysis that decide if a dominant company in a market defeated a competitor by using anti-competitive tactics. A judgement is expected on the case sometime during this year. However, the losing party can once again take an appeal to the CJEU.