US computer chip maker Intel [corporate website] on Tuesday argued before the EU General Court [official website] that the European Commission [official website] used flawed and inadequate evidence when it imposed a fine against the company in 2009. Intel had brought the challenge [text, PDF] two months after the Commission's decision to fine the company, claiming that the antitrust regulators erred in law, failed to meet the required standard of proof in the analysis of the evidence and failed to prove that the company engaged in foreclosing its competitors from the chip market. The EC penalized the company for hindering its rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) from participating in the market by offering computer manufacturers Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Japan's NEC, Lenovo and German retail chain Media Saturn Holding [corporate websites] a discount during the period from 2002 to 2007. The fine represented 4.15 percent of Intel's 2008 turnover or a possible maximum of 10 percent. The court is expected to hear the case over the next four days. Intel is asking the court to annul or reduce the fine substantially.
The investigation into the antitrust allegations lasted for eight years. In 2008, the Commission carried out an unannounced inspection [JURIST report] at the Munich office of Intel as part of an investigation into the company's possible anticompetitive practices. Intel was accused [JURIST report] of having violated the European antitrust laws by abusing its dominant position in the x86 architecture processor market to exclude AMD from the market. Similar proceedings were initiated and completed [JURIST report] in two years by the Korean Fair Trade Commission [official website, in Korean] that investigated into allegations that the company was forcing consumers to buy its products over those made by AMD.