EU fines Intel €1.06 billion in antitrust case

The European Commission Wednesday found Intel guilty of antitrust violations in the market for PC microprocessors and fined it €1.06 billion (US$1.44 billion).

The fine dwarfs that against Microsoft which was fined €497 million for abusing its dominant position in the software market, plus an additional €1.2 billion for failing to respect the antitrust ruling. The Commission also ordered Intel to stop its illegal practices.

The Commission investigation centered around charges that Intel illegally gave rebates to computer manufacturers in return for them buying the bulk of their x86 microprocessors from Intel.

The company was also accused of paying computer makers to cancel or delay the launch of machines using chips made by rival, AMD, and of selling its chips for server computers at below cost to large customers such as governments and universities.

Last year the Commission added fresh charges, accusing the chip giant of paying generous rebates to Media Markt, Europe's biggest chain of IT stores, in return for it de-listing all computers containing AMD chips.

Intel dominates the personal-computer chip market with share estimated at 81.9 percent at the end of 2008, while AMD held 17.7 percent, according to IDC.

Europe isn't the only region where Intel has run into trouble with antitrust authorities. In 2005 the company settled with Japan's competition office. Last year it was fined nearly $20 million in South Korea. Meanwhile, the company is under investigation in the U.S. by the Federal Trade Commission.

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