The European Commission announced today that it had imposed a fresh fine of €376.36 million on Intel for a previously established abuse of dominant position in the market for computer chips. The commission imposed the fresh fine after determining that Intel violated EU antitrust rules and engaged in a series of anti-competitive behaviors aimed at excluding competitors from relevant markets.
As far back as 2009, In 2009 the Commission had earlier fined the American chip maker €1.06 billion after finding that it abused its dominant position in the market for x86 CPUs. Back then, the antitrust agency stated that Intel tried to suppress its competitor AMD by providing rebates to computer manufacturers like Dell, HP, NEC, and Lenovo to encourage them to purchase its chips.
The Commission’s decision was based on findings that Intel had engaged in two distinct illegal practices: (i) giving computer manufacturers rebates that were entirely or partially concealed in exchange for them purchasing all of their x86 CPUs from Intel and (ii) paying computer manufacturers to delay or halt the introduction of certain products that used x86 CPUs made by competitors and to restrict the distribution channels available for these products.
However, in 2022, the General Court partially annulled the 2009 Commission’s decision, in particular the Commission’s finding related to Intel’s conditional rebates practice. The court affirmed that, in accordance with EU competition laws, Intel’s bare limits constituted an abuse of its dominant market position. In addition, the General Court completely overturned the fine imposed on Intel after determining that it was impossible to determine the amount of the fine for the restrictions alone.
As a result of this ruling, the Commission is now issuing a new ruling that fines Intel just for the bare restrictions. These limitations were payments made by Intel to three computer manufacturers between November 2002 and December 2006 in order to stop or delay the release of particular products using the x86 CPUs of rivals and to restrict the distribution channels open to these products.