Intel got a reprieve from the European Courts of Justice (ECJ), when Europe’s top court Wednesday backed an appeal against a massive fine imposed by the bloc’s antitrust regulator.
The ruling could have implications for Alphabet’s Google and Apple which are also facing large fines from Europe.
The European Commission’s antitrust regulator in 2009 fined Intel a record-breaking (at the time) €1.06 billion (US$1.26 billion) fine for having abused its dominant position for x86 central processing units by implementing a strategy aimed at pushing competitor Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) out of the market.
The regulator said Intel broke EU competition rules when it granted rebated to major computer manufacturers – Dell, Lenovo, HP and NEC – on the condition that they purchased all their x86 CPUs from Intel, thus diminishing the ability of competitors to compete.
Intel appealed the fine in 2014, but the General Court dismissed the action. The tech company then brought an appeal against the General Court’s judgment before the Court of Justice.
The ECJ on Wednesday, September 6, said the General Court failed to examine all the evidence presented in the appeal, concerning the alleged errors made by the commission in their initial ruling.
“The Court therefore sets aside the judgment of the General Court as a result of that failure in its analysis of whether the rebates at issue were capable of restricting competition,” the ECJ said. “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.”