Top EU lawyer backs Intel on record fine appeal


Luxembourg (AFP)

A senior legal advisor to the European Union's highest court on Thursday backed an appeal by US chip giant Intel against one of the EU's biggest ever fines for breaking competition rules.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, in 2009 slapped a record fine of 1.06 billion euros ($1.16 billion) on Intel after it said the company had offered clients price rebates to use its own computer chips in preference to rival AMD.

Intel then appealed to the General Court, second only to the European Court of Justice, but lost the case in 2014.

In dismissing the appeal that year, the lower EU court had "erred" and the case should now be referred back for the General Court "to examine all the circumstances of the case," the ECJ's Advocate General Nils Wahl said in a statement.

The ECJ is not obliged to follow the advocate general's rulings when it hands down its final decision but it frequently does.

A victory for Intel would be rare defeat for the European Commission that is facing a similar court battle with Apple over its decision in August to force the iconic iPhone maker to pay 13 billion euros in back taxes to Ireland.