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Global Economics

Intel Fails to Delay EU Antitrust Ruling

The European Commission denied the chipmaker's request to suspend a probe into charges that it gave financial incentives to PC makers

Intel has failed in its bid to delay European Commission antitrust procedures against the chipmaker.

The Commission's case followed complaints by AMD, which claimed Intel had offered financial incentives to PC manufacturers in an attempt to dissuade them from using AMD products. In October, Intel called on the Commission to acquire certain confidential AMD documents, arguing that Intel could not adequately respond to the charges without seeing them. It also asked for a 30-day delay in the case, so it could assess and respond to the documents. However, on Tuesday the European Court of First Instance (CFI) rejected Intel's arguments.

Marc Jaeger, president of the CFI, said in his judgement that the Commission's refusal to include the documents in its case file had "no independent and immediate legal effect and cannot be the subject of an action".

"Intel's legal position is neither immediately nor irreversibly affected, since any infringement of Intel's rights would produce effects only upon the adoption of a final decision, against which an action for annulment lies to restore Intel's rights," Jaeger wrote, adding that there was no reason why AMD could not, later in the case, still be asked to produce the documents.

Intel responded to the judgement in a statement on Tuesday, claiming Jaeger's decision "has no bearing on the merits of this case".

"The court said Intel's application was premature and that any harm to Intel from the Commission's failure to seek these documents could be considered by the court in the event the EC finds against Intel, and Intel appeals," the statement read.

AMD's executive vice president of legal affairs, Tom McCoy, said in a statement that AMD was "not surprised by the court's decision to reject Intel's application".

"The order is entirely consistent with the continuous and clear case law on this issue and Intel's appeal was simply an attempt to delay the Commission's decision-making process," McCoy said.

The Commission also issued a statement on Tuesday, welcoming Jaeger's decision.

"The Commission is pleased that the CFI President has confirmed that the Commission's antitrust investigation should not be suspended," the statement read. "The Commission's investigation remains ongoing. The legal deadline for Intel's reply to the Supplementary Statement of Objections passed on 17 October 2008, and Intel has not replied. The Commission cannot comment on the specific steps in the investigation that the Commission may now take."

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