The European Commission has imposed a fine of €1,060,000,000 on Intel Corporation for violating EC Treaty antitrust rules on the abuse of a dominant market position (Article 82 EC Treaty) by engaging in illegal anticompetitive practices to exclude competitors from the market for computer chips (specifically, computer chips called x86 central processing units (“CPUs”)). The Commission has also ordered Intel to cease the illegal practices immediately to the extent that they are ongoing.
During the period of October 2002-December 2007 Intel had a dominant position in the worldwide x86 CPU market (at least 70% market share). The Commission found that Intel engaged in two specific forms of illegal practice. First, Intel gave wholly or partially hidden rebates to computer manufacturers on condition that they bought all, or almost all, their x86 CPUs from Intel. Intel also made direct payments to a major retailer on the condition that they stock only computers with Intel x86 CPUs. Such rebates and payments effectively prevented consumer choice. Second, Intel made direct payments to computer manufacturers to halt or delay the launch of specific products containing competitors’ x86 CPUs and to limit the sales channels available to these products. The Commission found that these practices constituted abuses of Intel’s dominant position on the x86 CPU market that harmed consumers throughout the EEA and that by undermining its competitors’ ability to compete on the merits of their products, Intel’s actions undermined competition and innovation. The Commission will actively monitor Intel’s compliance with this decision. The world market for x86 CPUs is currently worth approximately €22 billion per year, with Europe accounting for approximately 30% of that.