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EU top court orders reexamination of Intel antitrust fine

Posted September 6

— The European Union's top court on Wednesday sent back a case on a billion euro fine against chip maker Intel Corp. for further legal examination.

Wednesday's ruling had been eagerly awaited for its implications on the powers of the antitrust office of the EU. Now the case could be in limbo for months, if not years.

In 2009, the EU fined Intel Corp. a record 1.06 billion euros (currently worth $1.26 billion), saying the world's biggest computer chip maker used illegal sales tactics to shut out smaller rival AMD.

The EU's executive Commission says Intel broke EU competition law by exploiting its dominant position with a deliberate strategy to keep AMD out of the market that limited choice for millions of European consumers.

The European Court of Justice on Wednesday sent the case back to the lower General Court so it can examine more arguments from Intel.

For eight years, the U.S. chip giant has claimed that EU regulators made serious mistakes in levying the record fine for monopoly abuse and have called the fine "manifestly disproportionate."

The EU said that Intel gave rebates to some computer manufacturers for buying all or almost all their x86 computer processing units and paid them to stop or delay the launch of computers based on AMD chips.

The EU General Court upheld the fine in 2014 but now, the top court referred it back for further examination to see to what extent such rebates restricted competition.

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