Santa Clara, California-based Intel, the world’s leading vendor of computer processors, has been found guilty of illegal practices by the European Commission, which has imposed a record 1.06 billion-euro ($1.45 billion) fine on the chipmaker. The commission also ordered Intel to cease any illegal rebates and other practices that were meant to eliminate AMD as a potential market competitor. The ruling, which has been expected since earlier this week, comes as an important step in a case that has been going on since 2001, when the EU Commission started investigating into the chip maker’s business practices, following a complaint from AMD.
“Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for many years,” competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said in the statement. “Such a serious and sustained violation of the EU’s antitrust rules cannot be tolerated.”
The violations covered a period of five years and three months, and concerned interactions the company had with Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC, as well as with Media Saturn Holding, a retailer who also sold Intel-based PCs. The EU predicated its fine on Intel’s 2007 revenue, which totaled 27.97 billion euros or $38.8 billion.
Giuliano Meroni, president of AMD’s European unit, said in a statement that the decision “will shift the power from an abusive monopolist to computer makers, retailers and above all PC consumers.”