European Commission fine Intel $400 million (€376 million) for violating competitors’ access to the market through blatant restraints between 2002 and 2007. The fine comes after a long battle in the antitrust court starting in 2009, when the Commission first fined Intel a record $1.13 billion for abuse of dominance.
While some of Intel’s actions, such as hidden discounts, were overturned on appeal for lack of evidence of harm, the commission confirmed that Intel paid computer manufacturers to delay or limit products using AMD processors.
Specifically, the Commission cited examples of Intel paying HP not to sell AMD-powered business PCs to small and medium-sized businesses through direct channels between 2002 and 2005. It also paid Acer to delay the launch of an AMD-based laptop from late 2003 to early 2004. Intel also paid Lenovo to delay the launch of AMD computers by six months.
According to the General Court, by placing these conditions on payments, Intel was able to limit the competitive threat posed by AMD desktop computers in key market segments.
The Commission said the new fine of €376 million reflects that Intel prevented the development and expansion of its main competitors in the x86 CPU market during almost 5 years.
As a result of those restrictions, computer manufacturers have stopped, delayed or placed restrictions on the commercialization of products based on a competitor’s chipsets, which they have actively designed and which have consumer demand.
Intel’s naked restrictions thus had a detrimental effect on market competition by depriving customers of a choice they would otherwise have had.
However, the fight did not end as the commission appealed the cancellation of the parts of the discounts in the case. And Intel could still face additional fines if the appeals court rules that the discounts also violate competition laws. The €376 million fine is now set in stone as Intel has not appealed this ruling.