The EU puts Intel in the dock
In Brussels Intel, the world's market leader in chips, follows Microsoft into the dock. Under investigation by the EU Commission, the US group defended itself in Brussels on Tuesday against serious accusations that it contravened competition law. The case being heard alleges abuse of a dominant market position, and carries with it the threat of a heavy fine. The EU's competition watchdogs confirmed that hearings were going on, but gave no details of the session, which is being held behind closed doors.
The EU Commission officially a took action against Intel in July last year. The group is accused of excluding its competitor AMD from the market for computer processors by illegal practices. Intel denies the accusations: it said the chip market was functioning normally, and Intel had behaved legitimately, competitively and in a customer-friendly manner.
It was reported in Brussels that the Commission would not be making its decision immediately after the two-day hearings ended on Wednesday. Even whether a decision would be made this year was a completely open question. Only last month EU investigators searched the offices of Intel and some large computer dealers in a number of countries.
The EU Commission officially took action against Microsoft in August 2000. Almost four years elapsed before it fined Microsoft €497m and imposed special conditions against the company's products. The unpleasant after-effects of those proceedings, with actions by Microsoft against the decision of the EU Commission, the findings of the court against Microsoft and the imposition of an additional penalty for Microsoft for non-compliance with the special conditions, are still being felt today.