The Court of Justice referred the €1.06 billion Intel antitrust case back to the General Court
In a judgment made on 6 September 2017, the Court of Justice has set aside the previous ruling of the General Court issued on 12 June 2014, which had upheld the fine of €1.06 billion imposed by the Commission on Intel in 2009 for abuse of a dominant position.
According to the 2009 Commission’s decision, Intel abused its dominant position in the market by granting rebates to four major computer manufacturers (Dell, Lenovo, HP and NEC) under the condition that they purchase from Intel all, or almost all, of their x86 central processing units (CPUs). In addition to rebates, Intel awarded payments to Media-Saturn, which were conditioned on the latter selling exclusively computers containing Intel’s x86 CPUs. The Commission found that those rebates and payments induced the loyalty of the four manufacturers and of Media-Saturn, which as a result significantly diminished the ability of Intel’s competitors to compete.
The General Court upheld the Commission’s decision which stated that loyalty rebates granted by an undertaking in a dominant position were, by their very nature, capable of restricting competition such that an analysis of all the circumstances of the case and, in particular, an efficient competitor test (the “AEC Test’”) were not necessary.
The Court of Justice has however found in its judgment that the Commission did not carry out an in-depth examination of the circumstances of the case in its decision, in which, according to the Court, the AEC Test should have had an important role.
The Court referred the case back to the General Court so that it may examine, in the light of the arguments put forward by Intel, whether the rebates at issue are capable of restricting competition. Intel’s arguments alleging that the Commission lacked territorial jurisdiction to penalise the abuse, and alleging procedural irregularities that affected its rights of defence, were rejected by the Court.
Source: Court of Justice of the European Union, press release No 90/17 of 6 September 2017