ECJ rules in landmark Intel case

ECJ rules in landmark Intel case

"The case is referred back to the General Court in order for it to examine the arguments put forward by Intel concerning the capacity of the rebates at issue to restrict competition".

The initial penalty, which represented around 4.15 percent of Intel's 2008 revenues, was record-breaking at the time, but has recently been overtaken by a €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) penalty against Google in June.

Intel has won a battle in its eight-year fight with the European Union (EU) over a $1.26 billion fine levied against the company.

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"The Court therefore sets aside the judgment of the General Court as a result of that failure", the ECJ said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Wednesday's ECJ ruling rejected Intel's claim that the Commission had acted outside its jurisdiction. "While the Intel case is about rebates, all major corporates being investigated by the commission can take this as a positive sign".

Because of its ruling that exclusivity rebates were automatic infringements of Article 102 TFEU the GC did not consider all of Intel's arguments regarding the Commission's alternative analysis of the effects of the rebates on competition.

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That could make it more hard for small dominant businesses to engage in competition suits, since they couldn't rely on presumptions and would need more proof. "While this case concerns events that happened more than a decade ago, we have always believed that our actions were lawful and did not harm competition", said Steven Rodgers, the company's general counsel.

Intel was originally hit with a record €1.06bn fine imposed by the European Commission in May 2009 for having abused its dominant position in the processor market. In 2009, evidence showed that the company had offered rebates and incentives to computer makers to favor their products over their rival, Advanced Micro Devices.

Regulators have generally frowned upon rebates, especially those offered by dominant companies, on the theory they are anti-competitive in nature. The tech company then brought an appeal against the General Court's judgment before the Court of Justice. In its ruling, the court decided this case was such that the AEC test should in fact be properly evaluated by the General Court, and deferred the case back.

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