The chip maker got one of the EC’s findings quashed, but a second complaint against the company is still on appeal.
Intel is has not quite escaped the long arm of European Union antitrust regulators, even after the bloc’s second-highest court squashed a 1.06 billion euro fine against the US tech giant.
In its annual report, Intel admitted that the European Commission may still levy another penalty against the company. This is because judges had backed one part of the regulator’s original findings stating that “Intel made payments to prevent sales of specific rival products.”
A long and winding legal road
In January 2022, the EU’s General Court, the second highest court in the union, annulled the European Commission’s 2009 findings against Intel regarding rebates. The EU General Court ruled that regulators made key errors in a landmark 2009 decision over allegedly illegal rebates that Intel gave to PC makers to squeeze out rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
The court also annulled the fine imposed by the Commission, which was returned to Intel in February 2022. The company then filed suit in the General Court in April seeking an order requiring the EC to pay Intel approximately €593 million in default interest.
Then, in April 2022, the EC appealed the General Court’s decision to the European Court of Justice (CJEU). The appeal charges that the General Court’s January 2022 decision to set aside the fine did not annul the EC’s 2009 secondary finding that Intel made payments to prevent sales of specific rival products.
This month, the EU antitrust authority “reopened its administrative procedure to determine a fine against Intel based on that alleged conduct,” the company said. “Given the procedural posture and the nature of this proceeding, we are unable to make a reasonable estimate of the potential loss or range of losses, if any, that might arise from this matter.”
The General Court’s decision last January was a bitter defeat for the EC, which had not lost a significant antitrust case in court for more than 20 years. The commission’s appeal has been pending at the EU Court of Justice since April 2022 but a hearing date on the case has not been scheduled.