The European Commission has slapped Intel with its biggest ever fine after it found the chip giant guilty of anti-competitive behaviour. The 1,06-billion Euro fine is significantly higher than the nearly 500-million Euro fine previously imposed on Microsoft for similar offences.
The Commission has also ordered Intel to "cease the illegal practices immediately".
In a statement released today, the Commission found that Intel engaged in two specific forms of illegal practice. First, Intel gave wholly or partially hidden rebates to computer manufacturers on condition that they bought all, or almost all, their x86 CPUs from Intel. Intel also made direct payments to a major retailer on condition it stock only computers with Intel x86 CPUs. Such rebates and payments effectively prevented customers – and ultimately consumers – from choosing alternative products.
Second, Intel made direct payments to computer manufacturers to halt or delay the launch of specific products containing competitors’ x86 CPUs and to limit the sales channels available to these products. The Commission found that these practices constituted abuses of Intel’s dominant position on the x86 CPU market that harmed consumers throughout the EEA. By undermining its competitors’ ability to compete on the merits of their products, Intel’s actions undermined competition and innovation.
The computer manufacturers concerned by Intel's conduct in the Commission’s decision are: Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC. The retailer concerned is Media Saturn Holding, owner of the MediaMarkt chain.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes says: "Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for many years. Such a serious and sustained violation of the EU's antitrust rules cannot be tolerated".