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Intel still chip, chip, chippin' away at the European Commission's anti-trust fine

AMD's complaint: sweet sixteen, never been nixed

Intel's rearguard action to avoid a billion-Euro-plus fine continued this week in a Luxembourg court, with the company arguing that the 2009 European Commission penalty was unfair.

The ancient spat – it began with an October 2000 complaint by AMD – concerns whether or not rebates Intel paid to OEMs to use its processors constitutes anti-competitive conduct.

After a supplementary filing by AMD in 2003, the European Commission ground into action in 2004, in an investigation that drew Acer, Dell, Lenovo, HP and NEC into its orbit.

The competition regulator found the rebates were only available if box-builders promised they'd buy 95 per cent of their processors from Chipzilla, with restrictive conditions on the other five per cent.

After five years, the commission imposed a €1.06 billion-dollar penalty – and in 2012, Intel's formal appeal against the decision was kicked off.

Arguing in front of the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg this week, Intel's lawyer Daniel Beard described the investigation as unfair because the European Commission failed to analyse “all relevant circumstances” to demonstrate that the rebates shut out AMD.

Since the EU General Court denied Intel's first appeal in 2014, the Luxembourg appeal is pretty much Chipzilla's last stand.

Bloomberg quotes the European Commission's lawyer Nicholas Khan as saying the rebate prevented computer makers from seeking out lower prices for processors.

No date has been set for a decision, so there's every chance we'll be singing "twenty-one today" to the original filing. ®

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