The European Court of Justice has inflicted a rare defeat on competition regulators in Brussels today after referring a serious case against Intel, the American computer chipmaker, back to court for an appeal.
On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) made a decision to set aside the judgment of the General Court "as a result of that failure in its analysis of whether the rebates at issue were capable of restricting competition".
The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the bloc's highest court, ruled that the General Court, a lower tribunal, should reconsider an appeal by U.S. microchip maker Intel. The Brussels-based antitrust regulator accused the company of using discounts to hurt Advanced Micro Devices Inc., a decision backed by a lower European Union court in 2014.
In 2009, the European Commission fined Intel €1.06 billion (US$1.25 billion) for abusing its dominant position in the market for x86 microprocessors in order to shut out rival Advanced Micro Devices.
The court did reject Intel's arguments that the Commission had mishandled interview procedure and mischaracterised its exclusivity rebates with HP and Lenovo, but did not rule on other parts of the appeal.
The chipmaker fared better before the European Court of Justice, which found Wednesday that the General Court neglected to examine all of Intel's arguments concerning what is known as the efficient competitor test.
The court turned down the appeal in 2014, prompting Intel to take its case to the EU's highest judicial authority, the Court of Justice.
The ruling could be limited to the facts of the Intel case (involving rebates and payments between companies) and have less impact on factually unrelated antitrust cases.
Last year, Ireland was ordered to claw back €12bn in unpaid taxes from Apple, with the Commission ruling that the company's arrangements in the country amounted to illegal state aid.
It could also give dominant companies more freedom over how they offer rebates and discounts. It was superseded by the $2.7 billion antitrust fine the European regulatory body imposed on Google in June.