European Antitrust regulators have been reviewing Intel’s case for a very long time, believing the company’s pricing model was an attempt to drive competition out of the market. Intel denied the charges related to rebates offered as long as manufacturers agreed to obtain the majority of their processors from Intel as well as paying them to either to delay or cancel the launch of AMD based products. The company maintained its actions were within legal boundaries.
In a statement this morning, the EU’s Competition Commissioner says Intel “harmed millions of European consumers deliberately” and the fines shouldn’t surprise anyone. "Given that Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for over five years, the size of the fine should come as no surprise," said Neelie Kroes.
Intel on the other hand is not happy and plans to appeal the decision, claiming it “ignores the reality of the highly competitive microprocessor market.” The fine itself amounts to a mere 4.15 percent of Intel’s annual revenue ($38 billion in 2008), and given that the European Union is, by law, allowed to fine up to 10 percent of that figure, we’re a little surprised at the leniency of it all.
The decision comes amid speculation that Intel could come under similar scrutiny in the United States following resolute statements from the White House regarding anti competitive behavior.