The EU's top court on Wednesday ordered a lower court to reconsider an appeal by USA tech giant Intel against a €1.06 billion ($1.27 billion) fine imposed by the European Commission for anti-competitive behavior.
On remand, the General Court must consider Intel's argument about whether the rebates were capable of restricting competition.
The regulator said Intel broke European Union competition rules when it granted rebated to major computer manufacturers - Dell, Lenovo, HP and NEC - on the condition that purchased all their x86 CPUs from Intel, thus diminishing the ability of competitors to compete.
"The Commission takes note of today's ruling by the European Court of Justice (Case C-413/14 P) and will study the judgment carefully", a spokesperson for the European Commission said in an emailed statement.
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Intel was accused of engaging in illegal, anti-competitive practices to exclude competitors from the market for CPUs.
This does not mean Intel is off the hook-rather, it means the General Court needs to examine Intel's legal arguments more closely than it did before, potentially giving Intel a chance to have the fine annulled or reduced.
The CJEU has now ruled that the General Court was obliged to consider Intel's arguments on the point and to determine whether the Commission had applied the "as efficient competitor" (AEC) test correctly.
The CJEU also considered but dismissed claims by Intel that the Commission had acted outside of its jurisdiction when taking enforcement action in the case, and that there had been "material procedural irregularity" affecting its rights of defence. Intel has been appealing this fine for years and now the European Court of Justice has ordered that the case be revisited in a lower court. Intel had also paid a major electronics retail group, Germany's Media Saturn Holding, to only stock PCs with Intel inside.
Google, which was hit with a 2.42 billion euro fine in June for favouring its own shopping service, is also under fire over its Android smartphone operating system and online search advertising.