Intel will fight Commission antitrust charges

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After a six year investigation the Commission last year published a set of charges against the company in the form of a 'statement of objections'. It said that the company abused its dominant market position to the disadvantage of competitor Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

It accused Intel of offering price cuts to computer makers on the condition that they fulfil "all or the great majority of their CPU [chip] requirements from Intel", according to the statement of objections.

The Commission also accused the chip maker of having an "overall anti-competitive strategy" which broke the EC Treaty in three different ways.

Intel has exercised its right to ask for an oral hearing in which it will defend itself against the charges. It will present its case to a hearing officer who will then make a report to the Commission.

Intel has in the past argued that both it and AMD have been affected by downward price pressure, which it said was evidence of healthy competition.

The Commission will make a decision on the case once it has heard evidence from Intel, though any decision could be appealed through the courts system. The Commission can fine Intel up to 10% of its global revenues.

Last summer the Commission made details of its case public. It said that as well as the rebates offered to exclusive customers, it believed that Intel paid computer makers to cancel or delay product lines containing AMD chips.

The case against the firm also claimed that Intel sold chips below cost when it was in competition with AMD.

The case stems from a complaint made six years ago and follows raids on Intel offices in 2005.

The European Commission is seen as being more bullish on competition issues since it won a landmark court ruling backing its €497 million fine of Microsoft on competition grounds. That ruling was made last autumn.