The European Commission has re-imposed a fine of around €376.36 million on Intel for a previously established abuse of dominant position in the market for computer chips called x86 central processing units (‘CPUs').
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Intel engaged in a series of anticompetitive practices aimed at excluding competitors from the relevant market in breach of EU antitrust rules.
In 2009, the Commission fined Intel €1.06 billion after finding that Intel abused its dominant position in the market for x86 CPUs.
The Commission decision was based on findings that Intel had engaged in two specific forms of illegal practices by:
(i) giving wholly or partially hidden rebates to computer manufacturers on condition that they bought all, or almost all, their x86 CPUs from Intel (so-called ‘conditional rebates'); and
(ii) paying computer manufacturers to halt or delay the launch of specific products containing competitors' x86 CPUs and to limit the sales channels available to these products (so-called 'naked restrictions').
In 2022, the General Court partially annulled the 2009 Commission's decision, in particular the Commission's finding related to Intel's conditional rebates practice.
At the same time, the General Court confirmed that Intel's naked restrictions amounted to an abuse of dominant market position under EU competition rules.
The General Court also annulled the fine imposed on Intel in its entirety after concluding that it could not establish the amount of the fine relating only to the naked restrictions.
Following this judgment, the Commission is adopting a new decision imposing a fine on Intel only for the naked restrictions.
These restrictions took place between November 2002 and December 2006 and consisted in payments made by Intel to three computer manufacturers (i.e., HP, Acer and Lenovo) to halt or delay the launch of specific products containing competitors' x86 CPUs and to limit the sales channels available to these products. ■