A European Union court on Wednesday overturned a 1.06 billion euro ($1.2 billion) antitrust fine slapped on the U.S. chipmaker Intel back in 2009 by the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, on the basis that Intel had unfairly tried to squeeze out its rivals.
The commission had claimed that Intel abused its dominant position on the worldwide market for “x86 2” data center processors between 2002 and 2007, by implementing a strategy intended to exclude competitors from the market.
But the General Court, a constituent court of the Court of Justice of the European Union, rejected the fine Wednesday, saying the commission didn’t do a proper economic analysis of a rebate scheme.
According to the Commission, that abuse was characterized by two types of commercial conduct engaged in by Intel vis-a-vis its trading partners, namely naked restrictions and conditional rebates.
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More specifically, Intel was found to have granted to four strategic original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) rebates which were conditional on those OEMs purchasing all or almost all of their x86 central processing units (CPUs) from Intel.
However, the General Court overturned those findings, noting in a statement that the Commission’s analysis "...is incomplete and does not make it possible to establish to the requisite legal standard that the rebates at issue were capable of having, or likely to have, anticompetitive effects."
Intel initially appealed the fine back in 2014, but the General Court dismissed the action. The tech company then brought its appeal against the General Court's judgment before the Court of Justice.