Intel could get huge fine in the EU

Early next month, European representatives will start deliberating on how much to fine Intel for alleged anticompetitive behavior.  According to the New York Times, the chipmaker could face the European Commission's heftiest fine yet.

Quoting speculation from "some legal experts," the Times says the fine could total €1 billion (roughly $1.33 billion). That'd be more than twice the $663 million fine Microsoft faced back in 2004. $1.33 billion is also equivalent to about 3.46% of Intel's revenue of $37.6 billion for last year. The Commission can theoretically go as far as 10% of a firm's global sales, but such a move "could put companies out of business rather than lead them to change their business practices," the Times says.

Of course, Intel may not even have to cough up $1.33 billion to begin with. Brussels law firm partner Michael Reynolds points out that a fine of that magnitude would only apply in the event of cartel behavior.

Intel is facing a different accusation—that of abusing its dominant position by offering PC makers and vendors incentives to keep AMD processors off of their shelves. In the case of European PC manufacturer Fujitsu-Siemens, for instance, Intel reportedly got the firm to hide references to AMD-based machines on its website. The Commission has been investigating Intel ever since receiving a complaint from AMD in 2000.

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