Intel wants reimbursement of AMD fine canceled by EU

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After reversing a $1.2 billion (~€1.06 billion) antitrust fine imposed on it by the European Commission (EC) last January, Intel has filed a claim for damages with the General Court of the EU. The Santa Clara-based company, which made $20 billion in revenue last year, claims almost half of the initial fine, to the tune of 623.5 million dollars (593 million euros) of accrued interest charges during the duration of the litigation.

The fine, originally imposed in 2009, related to Intel’s accusations preventing rival chipmaker AMD from entering the market by giving deep discounts to Dell, HP and Lenovo if they bought at least 95% of their chips to Intel.

Intel files an application “payment of compensation and consequential interest for the damage suffered as a result of the European Commission’s refusal to pay default interest to Intel”as filed on Monday to the EC. According to the company, it is liable for the moratorium interest rates applied throughout the legal battle since the initial judgment in 2009.

Intel’s own calculations on this are based on an analysis of the European Central Bank’s refinancing rate, which was set at 1.25% in 2009, with a 3.5% increase over the following 13 years. Intel is also claiming interest on any late repayment of the initial fine.

The 2009 decision follows an extensive five-year investigation into Intel’s alleged anti-competitive practices. AMD filed complaints about Intel’s alleged anti-competitive behavior until 2000 and again in 2003, which triggered the official investigation.

“The evidence gathered by the commission led to the conclusion that Intel’s rebates and conditional payments induced the loyalty of key OEMs and a large distributor, the effects of which were complementary in that they reduced considerably the ability of competitors to compete on the merits of their x86 processors,” the EC wrote in the 2009 decision. “Intel’s anti-competitive behavior has thus resulted in reduced consumer choice and diminished incentives to innovate.”

According to the decision, the EC had found sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims between October 2002 and December 2007. Several moments mark the 13-year gap between the initial and final decisions, since a first appeal to the General Court in 2012 (which he rejected in 2014), Intel then brought the matter to the attention of the Court of Justice of the European Communities, which found sufficient evidence to resubmit the decision to the Tribunal in 2017.

According to court documents, “In its analysis of the capacity of the rebates at issue to restrict competition, the Court of First Instance wrongly failed to take into consideration Intel’s argument aimed at denouncing the alleged errors committed by the Commission in the AEC [As-Efficient Competitor] test.”

Intel’s AEC argument essentially argued that the court failed to prove that AMD was as effective a competitor as Intel. It follows logically that Intel’s practices could not be anti-competitive, because neither AMD nor its products provided sufficient competition from the outset. Thus, its rebate offer was only intended to provide better deals to its most important customers, who would choose Intel’s technologically superior products either way. Interestingly, AMD’s products throughout this period included the famous Athlon 64 4000+ and FX-55 processors.

Intel’s argument and subsequent investigation of legal and evidence-gathering proceedings led to the decision possible reversal from January 2022. In an e-mail statement supplied to The registeran Intel spokesperson said that, “We [Intel] We welcome today’s decision by the Court, as we have always believed that our actions regarding rebates were legal and did not harm competition”, adding that, “The semiconductor industry has never been more competitive than it is today and we look forward to continuing to invest and grow in Europe.”

Once a landmark case in the EC’s fight against antitrust, the most recent annulment said the Commission’s initial analysis was incomplete and said it had failed to establish that “[the] challenged were likely to have, or were likely to have, anti-competitive effects.

While one would hope that 13 years and a series of appeals would be enough to finally settle the case, the battle is still ongoing. Last April, an EC spokesperson confirmed The register that the European Commission call (opens in a new tab) the court’s decision to overturn the fine – an appeal that is still pending. Maybe the legal battle will end in our lifetime.


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