Intel could be forced to change the way it does business around the world if anti-trust charges brought by the European Commission are made to stick.
The charges come after a six-year investigation about whether Intel's rebates to computer manufacturers are illegal and results from a complaint filed by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) in 2001.
The case will most likely drag on for years, but if the charges are upheld, it will make Intels' current practice of product discounting illegal in EU countries.
Just two years ago, Intel agreed to stop giving manufacturers rebates if they limited their use of competitive chips, as recommended by the Japan Fair Trade Commission.
The European Commission has successfully prosecuted large anti-trust cases before and in 2004 fined Microsoft $683-million for abusing its dominant PC operating system position.
The European Commission yesterday delivered a statement of objections and Intel now has two months to respond.
A company found giulty of breaching anti-trust law could be fined as much as 10% of its annual sales.