By Foo Yun Chee
PARIS (Reuters) – Europe’s top court is likely to rule on Intel’s <INTC.O> appeal against a record 1.06 billion euro ($1.19 billion) EU antitrust fine next year, an EU judge said on Monday, a case that may affect companies such as Google <GOOGL.O> and Qualcomm <QCOM.O> in the EU’s crosshairs.
The European Commission hit Intel with the record penalty seven years ago, accusing it of trying to stifle rival Advanced Micro Devices <AMD.O> by giving rebates to PC makers Dell [DI.UL], Hewlett-Packard Co <HPE.N>, NEC <6701.T> and Lenovo <0992.HK> for buying most of their computer chips from Intel.
The U.S. chipmaker subsequently challenged the decision at the Luxembourg-based General Court, Europe’s second highest.
Judges rejected its arguments in 2014, saying the Commission had not acted too harshly in handing down the sanction amounting to 4.15 percent of Intel’s 2008 turnover against a possible maximum of 10 percent. The company then appealed to the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ).
“I expect a judgment sometime next year,” Marc van der Woude, vice-president at the General Court, told a competition conference organized by Concurrence.
Intel got a boost last year when ECJ court adviser Nils Wahl questioned whether the company’s actions had really harmed competition. The court follows such recommendations in four out of five cases.
Google has been charged with promoting its services versus rivals, among other charges, while U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm is fighting EU charges of using anti-competitive methods, including giving rebates, to squeeze a rival.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter)