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The Intel antitrust case

On 13 May 2009, the European Commission adopted a decision finding that Intel Corporation infringed Article 82 of the EC Treaty by abusing its dominant position on the x86 central processing unit (CPU) market. The decision imposed a fine of EUR 1.06 billion and obliged Intel to cease the identified illegal practices, to the extent that they are ongoing, and not to engage in the same or equivalent practices in the future.

Decision in brief

The Decision sets out how Intel broke EU antitrust law by engaging in two types of practices.

First, Intel gave wholly or partially hidden rebates to computer manufacturers – Dell, HP, NEC, Lenovo on condition that they bought all, or almost all, their x86 CPUs from Intel. Intel also made direct payments to Europe's largest PC retailer – Media Saturn Holding (MSH) on condition that it stocked only computers with Intel x86 CPUs.

Second, Intel made direct payments to computer manufacturers – HP, Acer, Lenovo - to stop or delay the launch of specific products containing a competitor's x86 CPUs and to limit the sales channels available to these products.

Intel's anticompetitive behaviour diminished competitors' ability to compete on the merits of their x86 CPUs. This resulted in a reduction of consumer choice and in lower incentives to innovate.

The Decision also sets out how Intel sought to conceal its practices and how computer manufacturers and Intel itself recognised the growing threat represented by the products of Intel's main competitor, AMD.

Key documents

  • All case documents. (Commission decision, summary, press release)
  • Press conference by Commissioner Kroes: