The fact that Intel is arguing that its billion Euro fine infringed its human rights, suggests that Intel’s lawyers are scraping the barrel a bit.
Undoubtedly, companies do come under the scope of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 34 of the Convention says that the European Court of Human Rights can receive applications from ‘non-governmental organisations’ and it has been established that this includes companies.
But there seems something comic in the idea that a code intended to protect the downtrodden and the dispossessed should be invoked by a company with revenues not far short of $40 billion a year, and which is known for being a tough operator.
The reason why Intel has taken this tack is thought to be because the size of the fine cannot simply be brushed off as a tax on the way Intel does business, but is a statement of Intel’s criminality – a criminality which needs punishment.
If Intel is to be treated like a criminal, the argument goes, then it should be judged like a criminal – i.e. up before a court, rather than by a European Commissioner hearing the evidence, and making a judgment, in private.
This, of course, is exactly how Intel’s appeal against the fine will be conducted – up before a court with lawyers arguing the toss. In this case it will be the European Court of First Instance.
The curious thing about the EC-Intel judgment was the categorical way in which the two sides dismissed eachother’s positions.
For instance one allegation was that Intel paid manufacturers to delay AMD product launches.
Asked if Intel had done this, Sewell responded: “I can absolutely and categorically deny it, and I do deny it.”
Nonetheless, the Commissioner stated: ‘The Commission has specific, documented examples, of Intel paying other manufacturers to, for example, delay the launch of an AMD-based PC by six months.”
Asked if the Commissioner was lying, Sewell’s replied: “I am not aware of any such document.”
It looks as if it will take a court of law to decide what the evidence proves and what it does not prove.
And Intel will undoubtedly get its day in court.