Intel won its appeal against a 1.06 billion euro ($1.2 billion) EU antitrust penalties imposed on the US chipmaker 12 years ago for blocking a rival, is a huge loss for EU antitrust authorities.
The decision by Europe’s second-highest court in favor of Intel’s arguments is expected to cheer Alphabet (GOOGL.O)unit Google in its fight against large EU antitrust fines, as well as Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, who are in the crosshairs of the EU antitrust enforcer.
In 2009, the European Commission sanctioned Intel for attempting to stymie competitor Advanced Micro Devices (AMD.O) by providing rebates to computer makers Dell (DI.UL), Hewlett-Packard Co, NEC (6701.T), and Lenovo (0992.HK) for purchasing the majority of their chips from Intel.
The General Court in Luxembourg, Europe’s second-highest court, criticized the EU competition enforcer’s findings and overturned the penalties.
“The (European) Commission’s analysis is insufficient and does not allow us to show to the required legal level that the rebates at issue were capable of, or likely to have anticompetitive consequences,” the judges wrote.
The court overturned the whole item of the disputed verdict that fined Intel 1.06 billion euros for the violation. The Commission stated that it will analyze the decision and consider its future measures.
The same court had confirmed the Commission’s 2009 judgment in 2014, but the EU Court of Justice, Europe’s top court, urged Intel in 2017 to re-examine its case. Rebates are often disliked by regulators, particularly those provided by dominant corporations, because they may be anti-competitive.
Companies, on the other hand, argue that before punishing rebates, authorities must demonstrate that they are anti-competitive.
According to Assimakis Komninos, a partner at legal firm White & Case, the verdict would make the regulator’s job more difficult. “This is a significant triumph for Intel. It raises the stakes for the Commission when launching dominance cases.
For each situation, it must do an effects-based analysis. This will have an impact on all businesses “He stated. The decision may be appealed to the CJEU. T-286/09 P Intel Corporation v Commission is the case.