The computer giant Intel said today at the start of the hearing of the appeal against the fine of 1,060 million euros that the European Commission (EC) imposed in 2009, that Brussels did not collect enough evidence to prove that he abused its position of dominance in the processor market.
“The EC must prove their case with hard evidence, accurate and consistent,” he said in the courtroom Intel’s lawyer Nicholas Green, who held that the Commission committed procedural errors “undermining” their decision.
The Commission decided in May 2009 to punish Intel for trying to exclude competitors from the market of integrated circuits, computer architecture processors called “x86″, and imposed the highest fine to date focused on one company for anticompetitive practices.
The EU General Court held from today until Friday the views of the case, the EC initiated following a complaint from a competitor of Intel, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
According to EC, October 2002 to December 2007, Intel used its dominant position to grant computer manufacturers such as Acer, HP, Dell, NEC, Lenovo or MHS contingent discounts that buy all or almost all supplies of CPU (central processing units) of x86 architecture they needed.
He also maintained that Intel paid to dealers to sell only PCs with their processors.
For the EC, these rebates and payments Intel reduced the supply of alternative products for the consumer, something the company lawyer rejected the view that the Commission make a “mistake to relate the subjective beliefs of the clients’ and assume there was no need to “test the actual or potential” of the alleged anti-competitive behavior by Intel.
According to Green, can not be deduced from the “subjective reactions” of customers that Intel is guilty of a failure or that he was aware of it.
He said that although the company offered discounts, not tested how affected competition and reminded that refunds in the case of desktop computers, affecting 30% of the processors sold, when the EC ensures that the firm asked to change the exclusive purchase of up to 95% of the CPU that manufacturers need it.
For the Commission, however, the decisive factor in determining the fine is the “nature” of the violation and its effects, as deduced from a previous statement on British Airways, in which the General Court assumed that the discounts, by its very nature, harm competition, so it was not necessary to prove in that case its effects.
The EC lawyer Nicholas Khan said that in the indicated period, Intel needed to “increasingly buy the loyalty of their customers,” because then your domain was “more a legacy of concern that a demonstration of technical supremacy.”
According to another lawyer from the Commission, Manuel Kellerbauer, Intel customers feared losing those discounts and assume significant financial losses.
Upon completion of the hearings, the judges deliberated for several months before issuing its ruling, which can still be appealed to the Court of Justice of the EU, EU’s highest court.