Intel wins $1.2B EU antitrust suit, marking first win against European Commission in 20 years

The news: Intel has won a rare and historic victory over the European Commission in its $1.2 billion competition case. The EU General Court ruled that regulators made key errors in their 2009 decision over Intel’s rebates to PC makers. Those allegations claimed that the rebates boxed out rival AMD.

How we got here: In 2009, the EU fined Intel 4% of the company’s $37.6 billion in sales—the biggest antitrust fine levied at the time, per Bloomberg.

  • The EC found evidence that Intel hindered competition by giving rebates to PC manufacturers from 2002 until 2005 if they bought 95% of PC processors from Intel.
  • The commission said Intel also imposed “restrictive conditions” for the remaining 5% of chips supplied by AMD, which made it impossible to compete with Intel.
  • Intel appealed the decision for lack of sufficient evidence, which the EU rejected in 2014. 
  • Another appeal in 2017 resulted in Intel imploring judges to approach the case anew and consider evidence more closely.

What’s next? Intel’s victory could signal other companies facing antitrust cases in the EU to go to court. Various companies investigated for monopoly abuse have opted not to fight their cases hard since the EU had not lost a monopoly case in two decades.

  • The EC’s ruling can be appealed one more time, but Intel’s victory could go a long way to push Big Tech companies in similar antitrust predicaments to appeal.
  • This loss by the EU’s top court comes at a time of heightened antitrust regulation, with Google, Facebook, and Amazon embroiled in similar antitrust battles with the EU.