Intel appeals massive EC antitrust fine

In a statement to Betanews this afternoon, a spokesperson for Intel confirmed that the company has filed an appeal of last May's European Commission ruling, in which the company was fined the equivalent of $1.4 billion for what it found to be antitrust violations. According to spokesperson Chuck Mulloy, Intel's theory for its appeal is that the EC was prevented from seeing critical and possibly exculpatory documents, on account of an order of the court trying AMD's civil case against Intel in Delaware.

"As we said in the fall of 2008, we had asked the Court to require the Commission to get evidence from AMD that would be exculpatory," Mulloy told Betanews. "The Court said it was premature to rule on that and said we could bring it up on appeal. The documents [in question] are AMD documents that exist in the Delaware litigation, but we are not allowed to give them to the Commission because of the protective order in Delaware."

Last year, the judge in that civil case imposed a gag order preventing the distribution of documents pertaining to the case. In August 2008, the Computer and Communications Industry Association joined a multitude of news organizations, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Dow Jones, in filing a motion seeking the lifting of that order, but as yet to no avail.

Intel had informed the EC about that gag order, though the EC had apparently run up against time limits of its own. Knowing those documents remained under seal, it found against Intel anyway, though instructed the company that it may have the opportunity to raise those documents again during the appeals process, assuming they're not still under seal by that time. And that could be a while.

Mulloy today repeated his company's assertions that it will yet prevail upon appeal: "As we've said before, we believe the decision from the Commission is wrong, and that the market is highly competitive and works to the benefit of consumers," he told Betanews. "We expect this process will take well over a year."

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