Is Intel trying to stall the EC’s anti-trust investigation? You bet. Back in the summer we learnt that the EC had reviewed the evidence in the case and decided, like the Japanese and Korean governments, that Intel had acted in an anticompetitive way.
Unlike the Japan and Korea governments which had imposed derisory fines on Intel, it was rumoured that the EC would go the whole hog and clap a $3 billion maximum permitted penalty plus a commitment from Intel that it would behave legally in the future.
Now Intel has complained to the European Court of First Instance that the EC’s investigation was unfair. Even under the court’s ‘fast track’ mechanism, decisions from the European Court of First Instance can take up to a year.
AMD says Intel’s stalling. “This seems to be another attempt by Intel to delay the Commission’s proceedings; proceedings which have yielded evidence and formal charges that Intel illegally abused its monopoly power,” says Jens Drews, AMD’s director of government relations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Somehow a stalling strategy fits in with what is perceived as the typical Intel mind-set. But remember what the EC did to General Electric and Microsoft. The EC has skewered some big names in the past.
Intel may be hoping that in the present economic climate the EC’s competition authorities will shelve the case rather than stir up issues which could be regarded as contributing to protectionism.
But if the EC follows the dictum of a former EC Competition Commissioner, Mario Monti, then Intel’s hopes of a postponement will be disappointed.
“If the FTSE goes under 5,400 we cannot say that any company with a dominant position is allowed to abuse that position until the index recovers,” said Monti.
The EC has fried bigger fish than Intel, and Intel shouldn’t get too cocky.
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