Brussels, 13 May 2009
Antitrust: Commission imposes fine of 1.06
billion euros on Intel for abuse of dominant position; orders Intel to cease
illegal practices - questions and answers
(see also IP/09/745)
What must Intel do to comply with EU law?
The Decision sets out how Intel has breached EU antitrust law by engaging in
two types of practices which have harmed competition. First, Intel gave wholly
or partially hidden rebates to computer manufacturers on condition that they
bought all, or almost all, their x86 central processing units (CPUs) from Intel.
Intel also made direct payments to a major retailer on condition it stock only
computers with Intel x86 CPUs. Second, Intel made direct payments to computer
manufacturers to halt or delay the launch of specific products containing a
competitor's x86 CPUs and to limit the sales channels available to these
products. Intel is obliged desist from the specific practices identified in this
case and not to engage in these or equivalent practices in the future.
What is the geographic scope of the remedy?
This is a worldwide market. Within this context, Intel is obliged not to
engage in any abusive practices that have an effect within the European Economic
How will this Decision help innovation in the market?
Intel limited consumer choice and stifled innovation by preventing innovative
products for which there was a consumer demand from reaching end customers. Such
practices deter innovative companies which might otherwise wish to enter and
compete in the market. By ordering Intel to end its abusive practices,
competition on the x86 CPU market will play out on the merits with the effect
that innovation to the benefit of the consumer can flourish.
Does the Commission seek to limit companies' ability to provide customers
No. This case is about the conditions associated with Intel's rebates
and payments, not the rebates and payments themselves. What is at stake here
are loyalty or fidelity rebates, granted on condition that a customer buys all
or most of its requirements from the dominant undertaking, thereby preventing
that customer from purchasing from competitors. Intel also paid clients to delay
or not launch computers incorporating a competitor's CPUs, a conduct which is
not linked at all to a company's ability to provide customers with
Does the Commission’s Decision seek to protect competitors?
No, the Commission acts in the interests of consumers. The Commission does
not look at the specific interests of individual companies, but is charged with
ensuring that competition on the merits is safeguarded. This creates an
environment where consumers can benefit and where innovation can flourish.
What is the case-law underpinning the Commission’s case?
The legal underpinning of the Commission’s case is based on a
consistent pattern of Court jurisprudence, including Case 85/76 Hoffmann-La
Roche v Commission, Case T-203/01 Michelin v
Commission, Case C-95/04 British Airways v
Commission, Joined Cases T-24/93 and others, Compagnie Maritime Belge
v Commission and Case T-228/97, Irish Sugar.
Has the Commission applied its Guidance Paper on its enforcement
priorities in applying Article 82?
Formally, the Guidance Paper does not apply to this case since proceedings
were initiated before it was issued. The Decision is nevertheless in line with
the orientations set out in the guidance paper, and includes a rigorous,
effects-based analysis which has demonstrated that Intel's conduct has reduced
consumer choice and limited innovation in the market.
Intel is a US company. What gives the European Commission authority to
decide whether its behaviour is legal or not?
Intel sells its products inter alia in the European Union, which is
one of its main markets in the world. It must therefore respect EU antitrust
rules in the same way that European companies must respect US law when operating
on the other side of the Atlantic.
Did the Commission co-operate with the United States on this case?
The Commission and the United States Federal Trade Commission have kept each
other regularly and closely informed on the state of play of their respective
Intel investigations. These discussions have been held in a co-operative and
friendly atmosphere, and have been substantively fruitful in terms of sharing
experiences on issues of common interest.
Does Intel have to pay the fine immediately?
The fine must be paid within three months of the date of notification of the
Where does the money go?
Once final judgment has been delivered in any appeals before the Court of
First Instance (CFI) and the Court of Justice, the money goes into the
EU’s central budget, thus reducing the contributions that Member States
pay to the EU.
Does Intel have to pay the fine if it appeals to the European Court of
First Instance (CFI)?
Yes. In case of appeals to the CFI, it is normal practice that the fine is
paid into a blocked bank account pending the final outcome of the appeals
process. Any fine that is provisionally paid will produce interest based on the
interest rate applied by the European Central Bank to its main refinancing
operations. In exceptional circumstances, companies may be allowed to cover the
amount of the fine by a bank guarantee at a higher interest rate.
What percentage of Intel's turnover does the fine represent?
The fine represents 4.15 % of Intel's turnover in 2008. This is less
than half the allowable maximum, which is 10% of a company's annual
How was Intel able to exercise its rights of defence?
Intel has been provided full access to the Commission's file, with the
exception of legitimate claims relating to business secrets of other companies
and internal Commission documents. Intel has been able to fully comment on the
evidence on which the Commission has based its Decision. The file in this case
comprises several hundred thousand pages and the Decision is based on a broad
range of contemporaneous evidence from a variety of sources.
How long is the Decision?
The Decision is 542 pages long.
When is the Decision going to be published?
The Decision in English (the official language version of the Decision) will
be made available as soon as possible on DG Competition’s website (once
relevant business secrets have been taken out). French and German translations
will also be made available on DG Competition’s website in due course. A
summary of the Decision will be published in the EU's Official Journal L series
in all languages (once the translations are available).