Intel loses EU court challenge over €1.06b fine

Intel Corporation has lost its challenge against the €1.06 billion (£851.7 million) fine imposed by European Union antitrust regulators five years ago.

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The 2009 decision, enforced after the chipmaker was found guilty of blocking rival company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), was upheld this week. The company was accused of giving rebates to PC makers Dell, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and Lenovo for purchasing most of their chips from Intel. The firm were also found to have paid German chain Media Saturn Holding to only stock its chips.

The General Court in Luxembourg supported the decision, stating, "The Commission demonstrated to the requisite legal standard that Intel attempted to conceal the anti-competitive nature of its practices and implemented a long term comprehensive strategy to foreclose AMD from the strategically most important sales channels."

While the rising level of fines is a worry for companies, EU judges said that that the level of punishment had not been excessive in this case. Fines can reach a maximum of 10 per cent of a company's turnover, with Intel's recent charge equating to just 4.15 per cent.

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"The General Court considers that none of the arguments raised by Intel supports the conclusion that the fine imposed is disproportionate. On the contrary, it must be considered that the fine is appropriate in the light of the facts of the case," judges said.

Intel can further challenge the penalty at the EU's Court of Justice, but only on matters of law, so it looks likely that the firm will have to accept the hefty fine.