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This European Union antitrust case against


(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report

and the

record $1.45 billion fine

levied against the chipmaker is a little absurd.

First of all, the debate centers around two U.S. rivals, so it's not like the EU is protecting one of its own. Second of all,


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

got off with a much lower fine in its battle with the EU. In euros, Microsoft paid 899 million related to its EU antitrust case and Intel is paying 1.06 billion euros.

What's really absurd is that the EU action ignores the willing participation of the PC industry to support Intel over


(AMD) - Get Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Report

and other rivals.

The EU case says that Intel blocked smaller rivals by offering discounts to computer manufacturers that agreed to buy most of their chips from Intel. That sounds like a volume discount to me -- a pretty much standard business practice between suppliers and purchasers.


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and the other computer makers mentioned in the EU case had a choice, and they went with Intel.

Could it be that they got a better deal from Intel? I'm sure that's OK with consumers if it brings the price of PCs down.

Could it be that the PC makers find Intel machines are more popular? Again, the consumer makes that choice.

I'll bet most of the computers used by EU antitrust regulators have the little "Intel Inside" sticker on them.

OK, that's a cheap shot (probably true, but cheap nonetheless). The point, though, is that this great victory for AMD won't make a difference if consumers still prefer Intel chips. I guess that's what we're about to find out.

While AMD may be a winner in this case, European consumers are likely to be the losers as PC prices go up after Intel drops the discounts. How is that good for the consumer? If anything, this may prove to be good for Intel in the long run by giving the company a reason to raise prices.

Intel, however, plans to appeal the fine and says it did nothing wrong and caused no harm to consumers.

I'm not sure that's entirely true. Intel may have done something wrong here, but I think that if Intel is going to be fined for offering discounts that computer companies gladly accepted , perhaps the PC industry should be held accountable as well.

As the old saying goes, it takes two to tango. Intel clearly had many dance partners.

Hall is the editor of

. Previously, he served as deputy editor and chief innovation officer at

The Orange County Register

and as a news manager at

Bloomberg News

in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Washington, D.C. As a reporter, he covered business and financial markets, worked in both print and television in the U.S. and Europe, and conducted in-depth investigative coverage at

The Journal-Gazette

in Fort Wayne, Ind. His work also has been published in a variety of newspapers including

The Wall Street Journal


The New York Times


International Herald Tribune

. Hall received a bachelor�s degree in journalism and political science from The Ohio State University and has taken graduate management science courses at Boston University.