Intel To EU: Antitrust Investigation FAIL
In its petition, Intel claims the following:
- The conditional discounts Intel offered its partners were not proven to have affected competition.
- The Directorate General for Competition (DG-COMP) did not conduct analyze whether Intel's actions had a material effect on consumers, and
- The EC failed to consider whether or not Intel's rebate program affected EU citizens or were implemented in EU territory.
discounts and the decisions of Intel’s customers not to purchase from that competitor.
Because causality is extremely difficult to prove in anything but the simplest scenarios, courts rely on correlative evidence—hence the phrase "reasonable doubt."
Not pictured: The US judiciary system
One of the EU's benchmark tests to determine the existence or absence of anti-competitive behavior is an "as efficient competitor" or AES test. The EU recently updated its own guidance on exclusionary abuses, the PowerPoint is over here. An AES test examines market conditions, prices, and changes against a so-called "efficient competitor." The point of the analysis is to determine whether or not a company's situation (AMD, in this case) is a result of its own inefficiency, or due to the actions of a larger, more powerful competitor. The EU officials who performed that test obviously felt Intel was twisting the market to favor its own goals.
Intel's argument attacks the validity of DG-COMP's AES test from several angles. First, Intel claims that the EC "fails to prove that Intel’s rebate arrangements were conditional upon its customers purchasing all or almost all of their x86 CPU requirements from Intel." While Intel acknowledges that an AES test was conducted, it also claims that the EC "commits numerous errors in the analysis and assessment of the evidence relating to the application of that test." Put more concisely, Intel is asking for an annulment of the fine because the DG-COMP's office is run by a bunch of blithering idiots.
Regardless of whether Intel wins or loses its appeal there's a certain irony in the fact that AMD won't see a cent of the $1.45 billion fine. The one trial that could award damages begins this spring. If you're interested in perusing the text of Intel's claim, it's over here.