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Brussels, 17th July 2008
The European Commission can confirm that it has sent a supplementary Statement of Objections (SSO) to Intel on 17th July. The SSO reinforces the Commission’s preliminary view outlined in a Statement of Objections of 26 July 2007 (see MEMO/07/314) that Intel has infringed EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant position (Article 82) with the aim of excluding its main rival, AMD, from the x86 Central Processing Units (CPU) market.
In the SSO, the Commission outlines its preliminary conclusion that Intel has engaged in three additional elements of abusive conduct. First, Intel has provided substantial rebates to a leading European personal computer (PC) retailer conditional on it selling only Intel-based PCs. Secondly, Intel made payments in order to induce a leading Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to delay the planned launch of a product line incorporating an AMD-based CPU. Thirdly, in a subsequent period, Intel has provided substantial rebates to that same OEM conditional on it obtaining all of its laptop CPU requirements from Intel. In addition, the Commission has included in the SSO additional factual elements relating to a number of the objections outlined in the 26 July 2007 Statement of Objections.
Each of the conducts outlined in the 26 July 2007 Statement of Objections and the SSO is provisionally considered to constitute an abuse of a dominant position in its own right. However, the Commission also considers at this stage of its analysis that all the types of conduct reinforce each other and are part of a single overall anti-competitive strategy aimed at excluding AMD or limiting its access to the market.
Intel has eight weeks to reply to the SSO, and will then have the right to be heard in an Oral Hearing. If the Commission's preliminary views expressed in the SSO are confirmed, the Commission may decide to require Intel to cease the abuse and may impose a fine.
A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations in which the Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defence against the objections raised by the Commission. The party may also request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case.
The Commission may then take a decision on whether conduct addressed in the Statement of Objections is compatible or not with the EC Treaty’s antitrust rules. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.