* Asking EU court to quash record fine levied in 2009
* Lawyers say regulator's evidence "profoundly inadequate"
* EU says Intel "carefully camouflaged anti-competitive
* Judges set to rule in coming months
By Foo Yun Chee
LUXEMBOURG, July 3 EU antitrust regulators
relied on "profoundly inadequate" evidence in their case against
Intel, the U.S. chipmaker said in court on Tuesday in a
bid to quash a record 1.06 billion euro ($1.33 billion) fine.
The European Commission penalised the world's No.1 chipmaker
three years ago for hindering arch-rival Advanced Micro Devices
, after an eight-year investigation.
The fine, which represented 4.15 percent of Intel's 2008
turnover versus a possible maximum of 10 percent, was the
biggest ever levied on a company.
A panel of five judges at the General Court in Luxembourg,
Europe's second highest, will hear arguments from both the EU
watchdog and Intel during the four-day hearing, in which the
company wants its conviction and fine thrown out or reduced.
The Commission did not have sufficient evidence of any
wrongdoing by Intel and relied too much on subjective comments
by the company's customers, Intel's lawyer Nicholas Green told
"The quality of evidence relied on by the Commission is
profoundly inadequate. The analysis is hopelessly and
irretrievably defective," he said.
"The Commission's case turns on what customers' subjective
understanding is," Green said.
U.S. No.2 PC maker Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co
, Japan's NEC, world No.2 PC maker Lenovo
and German retail chain Media Saturn Holding received
rebates from Intel during the period investigated by the
Lawyers for the Commission said this was at the core of
Intel's illegal business practice.
"These kind of rebates can only be intended to tie customers
and put competitors in an unfavourable position," Commission
lawyer Nicholas Khan told judges.
He said contract wording also showed that "Intel carefully
camouflaged its anti-competitive practices".
Intel gained backing from the European Ombudsman, who
censured the Commission for procedural errors in its
In his non-binding report issued five months after the
regulatory finding, the Ombudsman said he had found
"maladministration" because the regulator had failed to make a
proper note of a meeting with Dell during its probe.
The Association for Competitive Technology, a lobby group
representing more than 3,000 small software developers and
information technology firms, supported Intel.
French consumer organisation Que choisir is backing the
The General Court is expected to rule in the coming months.
Companies can appeal to the highest court, the EU Court of
Justice, if they take their case further.
The case is T-286/09, Intel vs Commission.