Intel appeals massive antitrust fine

Chipmaker files an appeal against the European Commission's $1.5 billion fine but has yet to reveal the precise basis legal for the appeal.

Intel is appealing an antitrust fine levied against it by the European Commission in May.

The chipmaker lodged its appeal Wednesday in the European Court of First Instance against the 1.06 billion euros ($1.5 billion) fine --although the company has yet reveal the precise legal basis for the appeal.

"We felt the EC decision was incorrect, and that evidence was ignored or misinterpreted," an Intel representative told ZDNet UK on Thursday. "We believe the Commission ignored the realities of the microprocessor market, which is highly competitive."

However, the Commission said Thursday that it had made the right decision in levying the fine. "The Commission is confident its antitrust decision is legally watertight," spokesman Jonathon Todd told ZDNet UK.

In May, the Commission found that Intel had made direct payments to Media Saturn Holding, which owns the European electronics retail chain, Media Markt. The Commission said the payments were designed to ensure that Media Markt would only stock computers with Intel x86 chips.

However, Intel has denied the charges and denied making any direct payments to retailers or customers. Intel Senior Vice President Bruce Sewell has said that Intel did offer discounts or "incentives in the form of funds to launch marketing campaigns." Sewell also denied that Intel had put any conditions on the rebates it offered to computer manufacturers.

On Thursday, Intel's representative said consumers have actively benefited from the workings of the microprocessor market.

"Since the Commission investigation started in 2001, (chip) prices have fallen by more than half," the representative said. "We think consumers have benefited from falling prices."

Intel on Thursday declined to give any specific details of the legal grounds for its complaint against the Commission decision. However, ZDNet UK understands that the European Court of First Instance will publish details of the appeal in several weeks' time.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

 

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