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Intel's fight against European Union antitrust to drag on after court ruling

08 September 2017

Intel was given a boost yesterday when Europe's top court sent the EU's antitrust regulators case against the U.S. chipmaker back to court for an appeal.

It referred the case back to the General Court, ordering it to examine Intel's arguments about whether the rebates were capable of restricting competition in the way that the Commission claimed.

The ruling to send the case back to EU General Court says that previously, not all of Intel's arguments were taken into account when making the final ruling.

Though Intel challenged the commission's fine, the European General Court dismissed Intel's appeal in 2014.

While CURIA's ruling potentially opens the door for Intel to have the fine reduced or even written off in its entirety the company also had other arguments fully dismissed: Intel's claims that the EU Commission lacked territorial jurisdiction to fine a USA company and allegations of procedural irregularities that affected the company's rights of defence were both rejected by CURIA.

The EU court has brought the European Commission one step closer to its first bloody nose on anti-trust fines.

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The US tech giant, which has its European manufacturing headquarters in Leixlip, Co Kildare, appealed the fine to the General Court in Luxembourg.

"The Commission takes note of today's ruling by the European Court of Justice (Case C-413/14 P) and will study the judgment carefully", a spokesperson for the European Commission said in an emailed statement. "The ECJ's decision is also good news for consumers, because dominant companies may now have more flexibility in offering rebates to high-volume buyers". The Brussels-based antitrust regulator accused the company of using discounts to hurt Advanced Micro Devices Inc., a decision backed by a lower European Union court in 2014.

In its appeal, Intel had disputed the application and findings of the AEC test.

Google, which was hit with a 2.42 billion euro fine in June for favouring its own shopping service, is also under fire over its Android smartphone operating system and online search advertising.

While the commission argued the company's rebates were by their nature anticompetitive, it also carried out an in-depth analysis of the circumstances, proving the rebate scheme was capable of shutting out a rival.

Intel's fight against European Union antitrust to drag on after court ruling