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Intel fights against record €1 billion EU antitrust fine

One of the biggest antitrust cases in tech history took a fresh twist this week, as Intel launched its fight against the huge €1.06 billion fine (£850 million) imposed on the company by an EU Commission in 2009.

The world’s number one chip manufacturer was penalised for hindering rival firm Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) through the use of rebates and contract conditions after an eight-year investigation. The fine represented 4.15 per cent of Intel’s entire turnover for 2008.

With rumblings of discontent emanating from the firm ever since, it is now launching a challenge to get the conviction thrown out, or at least have the fine reduced, as legal proceedings re-opened in Luxembourg this week. The four day trial began on Tuesday and sees Intel go head-to-head with the EU watchdog while a panel of five judges resides over the dispute.

Intel’s lawyer Nicholas Green came out fighting on the company’s behalf on Tuesday, telling the court, "The quality of evidence relied on by the Commission is profoundly inadequate. The analysis is hopelessly and irretrievably defective.

"The Commission's case turns on what customers' subjective understanding is," Green added, referring to the prosecution’s reliance on observations from the public.

Dell, HP, NEC, Lenovo and German retail chain Media Saturn Holding all received rebates from Intel during the period investigated by the regulator. Lawyers for the Commission said this was at the core of Intel's illegal business practice.

Source: Reuters