Intel loses appeal of $1.45 billion EU antitrust penalty

The General Court ruled the ‘fine is appropriate in the light of the facts of the case’

2009 was the European Union’s year of the Competition Commission. Through a host of antitrust violations filed against technology companies, the European Commission finalized a $1.3 billion penalty against Microsoft for giving customers no Internet browser choice with Windows, as well as a $1.45 billion penalty against Intel for abusing its dominance in the computer chip market.

Microsoft played nice with the Commission. Intel did not, and subsequently challenged its penalty in the EU’s second-highest court, the Luxembourg-based General Court. Finally, five years later, Intel received its answer: a resounding “no.”

The General Court backed the European Commission’s ruling in a 300-page ruling on June 12, saying that the Commission had not been heavy-handed when handing down the record penalty.

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“The Commission demonstrated to the requisite legal standard that Intel attempted to conceal the anti-competitive nature of its practices and implemented a long term comprehensive strategy to foreclose AMD from the strategically most important sales channels,” the ruling said.

Furthermore, the Commission ruled that Intel’s arguments against the fine were ineffectual, saying, “The General Court considers that none of the arguments raised by Intel supports the conclusion that the fine imposed is disproportionate. On the contrary, it must be considered that that fine is appropriate in the light of the facts of the case.”

Now, Intel’s only option is to take the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union. However, that court would only be able to pass judgment on points of law within the case, not on the penalty itself. According to Reuters, Intel has not announced whether it would do so.

The General Court’s ruling comes just one day after other U.S. companies were targeted for potential illegal practices within the European Union. Apple and Starbucks are now being investigated for allegations of illegal tax breaks from the governments of Ireland and the Netherlands, respectively.

Assistant Editor

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Zach Warren

Zach Warren is Assistant Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he oversees online content submissions and administers InsideCounsel's enewsletters. Zach specializes in new media and multimedia...

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