THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE (ECJ) has ruled that the landmark €1.06bn (around £815m) antitrust fine levied against Intel is reexamined by a lower court.
The European Commission (EC) slapped Intel with the fine in 2009 after ruling that the company had abused its dominance in the processor market by offering rebates to PC makers that used its chips instead of those made by competitors.
Intel offered rebates to firms including Dell, HP and Lenovo, along with German retail chain Media Saturn Holding, to squeeze rival AMD out of the market, according to the ruling.
"By undermining its competitors' ability to compete on the merits of their products, Intel's actions undermined competition and innovation," the EC said at the time.
Intel has long fought back against the ruling, arguing that EU judges failed to analyse "all relevant circumstances" to see whether the rebates shut out rivals including AMD. The firm also last year received a boost after a top European judge said that the case should be reviewed.
Nils Wahl questioned whether there was substantial evidence that the firm's actions actually harmed competition, saying: "Intel's appeal against the imposition of a €1.06bn fine for abuse of its dominant position should be upheld. The case should be referred back to the General Court for a fresh review."
This fighting back has paid off for the firm. Although the European General Court upheld the fine in 2014, the ECJ ruled on Wednesday that the case be sent back to the lower General Court so it can examine more arguments from Intel.
"The Court refers the case back to the General Court so that it may examine, in the light of the arguments put forward by Intel, whether the rebates at issue are capable of restricting competition," it said in its ruling.
This isn't just good news for Intel, as the ECJ's ruling could force the EC to re-examine its tough line approach in other antitrust cases, such as those against Qualcomm and Google. µ
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