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European Commission Publishes Decision Concerning Intel's Abuse of Dominant Position

btarunr

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#1
The European Commission has today published a non-confidential version of its Intel Decision, adopted on 13 May 2009 ( IP/09/745 and MEMO/09/235 ), together with a summary of the key elements of the Decision. That Decision found that Intel broke EC Treaty antitrust rules (Article 82) by engaging in two types of illegal practice to exclude competitors from the market for computer chips called x86 central processing units (CPUs). These practices harmed consumers throughout the EEA. By undermining its competitors’ ability to compete on the merits of their products, Intel’s actions undermined competition, reduced consumer choice and hindered innovation. On the basis of a significant amount of contemporaneous evidence and company statements, the Decision demonstrates how Intel broke the law.

Intel abused its dominant position in the x86 CPU market by implementing a series of conditional rebates to computer manufacturers and to a European retailer and by taking other measures aimed at preventing or delaying the launch of computers based on competing products (so-called 'naked restrictions'). The Commission's Decision outlines specific cases of these conditional rebates and naked restrictions, as well as how Intel sought to conceal its practices and how computer manufacturers and Intel itself recognised the growing threat represented by the products of Intel's main competitor, AMD.

Conditional Rebates

The conditional rebates were as follows:
  • Intel rebates to Dell from December 2002 to December 2005 were conditioned on Dell purchasing exclusively Intel CPUs. For example, in an internal Dell presentation of February 2003, Dell noted that should Dell switch any part of its CPU supplies from Intel to its competitor AMD, Intel retaliation " could be severe and prolonged with impact to all LOBs [Lines of Business]." In a February 2004 e-mail on the consequences of the possible purchase by Dell of AMD CPUs, a Dell executive wrote: " Boss, here's an outline of the framework we discussed with Intel. (…) Intel is ready to send [Intel Senior executive] /[Intel executive] /[Intel executive] to meet with [Dell Senior Executive]/[Dell Senior Executive]/[Dell Executive] . (...) Background: [Intel Senior executive] /[Intel Senior executive] are prepared for [all-out war] 1 if Dell joins the AMD exodus. We get ZERO MCP [name of Intel rebate to Dell] for at least one quarter while Intel 'investigates the details' (...) We'll also have to bite and scratch to even hold 50%, including a commitment to NOT ship in Corporate. If we go in Opti [Dell product series for corporate customers] , they cut it to <20% and use the added MCP to compete against us. ".
  • Intel rebates to HP from November 2002 to May 2005 were conditioned in particular on HP purchasing no less than 95% of its CPU needs for business desktops from Intel (the remaining 5% that HP could purchase from AMD was then subject to further restrictive conditions set out below). In this regard, in a submission to the Commission, HP stated that " Intel granted the credits subject to the following unwritten requirements: a) that HP should purchase at least 95% of its business desktop system from Intel …". By way of example, in an e-mail written in July 2002 during the negotiation of the rebate agreement between HP and Intel, an HP executive wrote: "" PLEASE DO NOT… communicate to the regions, your team members or AMD that we are constrained to 5% AMD by pursuing the Intel agreement".
  • Intel rebates to NEC during the period ranging from October 2002 to November 2005 were conditioned on NEC purchasing no less than 80% of its CPU needs for its desktop and notebook segments from Intel. For example, in a May 2002 e-mail (when the arrangement was concluded), an NEC executive specified that " NEC will (...) increase [worldwide] Intel market share from [...] % to 80%. Intel will give NEC [support] and aggressive [...] price.".
  • Intel rebates to Lenovo during year 2007 were conditioned on Lenovo purchasing its CPU needs for its notebook segment exclusively from Intel. For example, in a December 2006 e-mail, a Lenovo executive stated: " Late last week Lenovo cut a lucrative deal with Intel. As a result of this, we will not be introducing AMD based products in 2007 for our Notebook products".
  • Intel payments to Media Saturn Holding (MSH), Europe's largest PC retailer, were conditioned on MSH selling exclusively Intel-based PCs from October 2002 to December 2007. For example, in a submission to the Commission, MSH stated: " It was clear to MSH in this regard that the sale of AMD-equipped computers would result at least in a reduction of the amount of Intel's contribution payments per Intel CPU under the contribution agreements (and thus in a reduction of the total payments received from Intel, even if the total volume of Intel-CPUs sold by MSH would have remained the same as in previous periods), although MSH never actually tested the issue with Intel.".

Naked restrictions

The naked restrictions uncovered by the Commission were as follows:
  • Between November 2002 and May 2005, Intel payments to HP were conditioned on HP selling AMD-based business desktops only to small and medium enterprises, only via direct distribution channels (rather than distributors), and on HP postponing the launch of its first AMD-based business desktop in Europe by 6 months. For example, in an internal September 2004 HP e-mail, an HP executive stated: “ You can NOT use the commercial AMD line in the channel in any country, it must be done direct. If you do and we get caught (and we will) the Intel moneys (each month) is gone (they would terminate the deal). The risk is too high ".
  • Intel payments to Acer were conditioned on Acer postponing the launch of an AMD-based notebook from September 2003 to January 2004. For example, in a September 2003 email, an Intel executive reported: "good news just came from [Acer Senior Executive] that Acer decides to drop AMD K8 [notebook product] throughout 2003 around the world. We've been talking with them all the way up to [Intel senior executive] 's […] level recently including [Intel executive] , [Intel senior executive] … and [Intel executive]… . They keep pushing back until today, after the call with [Intel executive] this morning, [Acer Senior Executive] just confirmed that they decide to drop AMD K8 throughout 2003 around the world. [Acer Senior Executive] has got this direction from [Acer Senior Executive] as well and will follow through in EMEA [Europe Middle East and Africa region]".
  • Intel payments to Lenovo were linked to or conditioned on Lenovo postponing the launch of AMD-based notebooks from June 2006 to the end of 2006. For example, in a June 2006 e-mail, a Lenovo executive reported that: "[two Lenovo executives] had a dinner with [an Intel executive] tonight (…). […] When we asked Intel what level of support we will get on NB [notebook] in next quarter, [he] told us (…) the deal is base[d] [sic] on our assumption to not launch AMD NB [notebook] platform. (…) Intel deal will not allow us to launch AMD".

Concealment

The Commission found that Intel generally sought to conceal the conditions in its arrangements with PC manufacturers and MSH. For example:
  • The rebate arrangement with Dell was not subject to a written agreement but was concluded orally at various meetings. In this regard for example, in a submission to the Commission, Dell stated that " there is no written agreement between Intel and Dell concerning the MCP [rebate] discount, rather, the discount is the subject of constant oral negotiations and agreement".
  • There was a written agreement with HP but the relevant conditions remained unwritten. In this regard for example, in a submission to the Commission, HP stated that the " unwritten conditions (...) were stated to be part of the HPA1 agreement by [Intel executive] , [Intel executive] and [Intel senior executive] in meetings with HP during the negotiations;
  • The written agreement with MSH contained a provision that the deal was non-exclusive. However, the evidence demonstrates that at Intel's request, the arrangement was in fact exclusive. In this regard for example, in a submission to the Commission, MSH stated that " It was clear to MSH that despite the non-exclusivity clause the exclusive nature of the relationship remained, for Intel, an essential element of the relationship between Intel and MSH. In fact, [MSH executive] recalls that Intel representatives made it clear to him that the changes in the wording of the agreement had been requested by Intel's legal department, but that in reality the relationship was to continue as before, including the requirement that MSH sell essentially only Intel-based computers."

Other statements from computer manufacturers and MSH outline how the various Intel conditions were an important factor in their decisions not to partially switch to or buy more x86 CPUs from AMD, Intel's main competitor in the x86 CPU market. For instance, in a submission to the Commission, HP stated that it " can confirm that Intel's inducements (in particular the block rebates) were a material factor in determining HP's agreement to the unwritten conditions. As a result (...) HP [Business desktop PC division] stayed at least 95% aligned to Intel."

AMD's growing threat
The evidence in the Decision indicates the growing threat that AMD's products represented to Intel, and that Intel's customers were actively considering switching part of their x86 CPU supplies to AMD. For example, in an October 2004 e-mail from Dell to Intel, a Dell executive stated that " AMD is a great threat to our business. Intel is increasingly uncompetitive to AMD which results in Dell being uncompetitive to [Dell competitors] . We have slower, hotter products that cost more across the board in the enterprise with no hope of closing the performance gap for 1-2 years." In a submission to the Commission, Dell also stated that as regards Opteron, " in Dell's perception this CPU generally performed approximately […] better than the comparable Intel Xeon CPU at the time." As regards AMD's Athlon PC CPU, an internal HP presentation from 2002 stated that it " had a unique architecture", was " more efficient on many tasks" , and had been " CPU of [the] year [for] 3 consecutive years".

The fact that AMD had improved its products is also recognised by Intel itself. For example, in a 2005 submission to the Commission, Intel stated that " AMD improved its product offerings dramatically with the introduction of its successful Opteron processor". This is also confirmed by contemporaneous documents from Intel. For example, in a 2004 internal Intel e-mail, it is stated that " Opteron is real threat today… Opteron-based single WS [Workstation] benchmarks beat [Intel's] Xeon in all cases."

Procedure
Before the Commission adopted its final Decision, it carried out a comprehensive investigation of the facts. During the proceedings Intel was able to comment fully on all the Commission's evidence outlined in the Decision. Indeed, the Commission went beyond its legal obligations in safeguarding Intel's rights of defence. For example, despite the fact that Intel chose not to reply to the Commission's supplementary Statement of Objections (see MEMO/08/517 ) by the extended deadline of 17 October 2008 but instead sought to suspend the Commission's case, the Commission took full account of Intel's belated written submissions relating to the supplementary Statement of Objections.

The full text of the decision, together with a summary, is now available on the Europa website here.

Source: Europa
 
T

thraxed

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#2
I bet by the time they're done battling it out in court, the x86 cpu market will be legacy.
 
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#3
Pwned.
 
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#4
Intel payments to Acer were conditioned on Acer postponing the launch of an AMD-based notebook from September 2003 to January 2004. For example, in a September 2003 email, an Intel executive reported: "good news just came from [Acer Senior Executive] that Acer decides to drop AMD K8 [notebook product] throughout 2003 around the world. We've been talking with them all the way up to [Intel senior executive] 's […] level recently including [Intel executive] , [Intel senior executive] … and [Intel executive]… . They keep pushing back until today, after the call with [Intel executive] this morning, [Acer Senior Executive] just confirmed that they decide to drop AMD K8 throughout 2003 around the world. [Acer Senior Executive] has got this direction from [Acer Senior Executive] as well and will follow through in EMEA [Europe Middle East and Africa region]".

Drop Athlon 64 ??? in 2003 :confused:
that directly makes customers get slower pcs :eek:
 
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#5
A fine of EUR 1 060 000 000 has been imposed on Intel Corporation for the infringement

Ow^^
that must have hurt someone;)
 
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#7
Here goes another 50 pages of nerd rage fighting points no one truly understands.
 

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#8
It's sad to see that this was happening in 2004 when AMD really had the top of the rung CPU's, you can see Intel was shaking in their boots. The market share they could have snatched if this crap wasn't going on, it would have been a lot :(
 
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#9
Here goes another 50 pages of nerd rage fighting points no one truly understands.
Unless you're saying that those executives from Dell, HP, and Lenovo are flat-out lying, it seems pretty open and shut to me. :wtf: Intel did a bad thing, and they got caught. :laugh:

Though, I don't doubt there's going to be 50 pages of nerd rage.
 

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#10
intel did it and i dont consider it bad. my belief is that if you have a problem with a business using these types of practices then you have a problem with business in general. of course, you could always start your own business to run intel out of the market.
 
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#11
Unless you're saying that those executives from Dell, HP, and Lenovo are flat-out lying, it seems pretty open and shut to me. :wtf: Intel did a bad thing, and they got caught. :laugh:

Though, I don't doubt there's going to be 50 pages of nerd rage.
Oh, he's just mad because he can't troll his anti-EU drivel any more ;)
 
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#12
intel did it and i dont consider it bad. my belief is that if you have a problem with a business using these types of practices then you have a problem with business in general. of course, you could always start your own business to run intel out of the market.
I just want to clarify this:

You have no problem with a monopoly abusing its position to force customers to buy products from it that are slower, more expensive, and worse performing?

I'm not trying to say you're wrong -- but if that's what you actually believe, I just want to make sure of it.
 
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#13
tsk tsk tsk. greedy bastards
 

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#14
I just want to clarify this:

You have no problem with a monopoly abusing its position to force customers to buy products from it that are slower, more expensive, and worse performing?

I'm not trying to say you're wrong -- but if that's what you actually believe, I just want to make sure of it.
first off, intel is not a monopoly. AMD is their competition. second off, amd is an inferior company in all respects, that is not intel's fault. thirdly, companies are not forced to buy intel products simply because intel offers a rebate or threatens to stop selling or any other number of savvy business tactics. the third party vendors could have still gone with AMD. in fact, had they organized themselves properly, AMD and their vendors could have beaten back intel. but as i said, AMD is an inferior company that must rely on the govt to protect its business.
 
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#15
first off, intel is not a monopoly. AMD is their competition. second off, amd is an inferior company in all respects, that is not intel's fault. thirdly, companies are not forced to buy intel products simply because intel offers a rebate or threatens to stop selling or any other number of savvy business tactics. the third party vendors could have still gone with AMD. in fact, had they organized themselves properly, AMD and their vendors could have beaten back intel. but as i said, AMD is an inferior company that must rely on the govt to protect its business.
Merely having competition does not mean you're not a monopoly -- even Standard Oil "competed" with other companies back in the 1900's. :laugh:

A monopoly is defined as a "company, large enough so that its market position allows it to manipulate the prices of its products, instead of allowing the free market to do so." That's a monopoly.

These companies were forced to buy from Intel -- AMD could not meet their massive demand, not that AMD even needed to. They could've still bought some of their chips from Intel and some from AMD (especially considering AMD's were faster at the time), however Intel forced them not to.

I would advise you to read the entire thing up above, there -- if you're unwilling or unable to do so, either get someone else to do it for you, but otherwise I can't help you and I'm not going to try to convince you any further.
 
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#16
Ring around the roses. Pocket full of posies. Ashs, ashes we all blow the EU.
 
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#17
Ring around the roses. Pocket full of posies. Ashs, ashes we all blow the EU.
Everytime you buy a company's product, you're blowing them too. Big deal -- live with it! :D

At least you get to vote in the people receiving it with government -- hell, you could even be one of them, one day.

But unless you're going to live in a cabin in the woods somewhere, you needn't bitch about having to serve masters. Whether it's your masters in the government, or your masters in the market, you're serving someone.
 
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#18
Merely having competition does not mean you're not a monopoly -- even Standard Oil "competed" with other companies back in the 1900's. :laugh:

A monopoly is defined as a "company, large enough so that its market position allows it to manipulate the prices of its products, instead of allowing the free market to do so." That's a monopoly.

These companies were forced to buy from Intel -- AMD could not meet their massive demand, not that AMD even needed to. They could've still bought some of their chips from Intel and some from AMD (especially considering AMD's were faster at the time), however Intel forced them not to.

I would advise you to read the entire thing up above, there -- if you're unwilling or unable to do so, either get someone else to do it for you, but otherwise I can't help you and I'm not going to try to convince you any further.
I have to agree with this. Intel practically forced the companies not to buy AMD because AMD had the better cpu and Intel didnt want them to gain anymore market share. Which is why we have the shitty Phenom II today. Knowing this information makes things make alot more sense.
 

Suijin

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#19
intel did it and i dont consider it bad. my belief is that if you have a problem with a business using these types of practices then you have a problem with business in general. of course, you could always start your own business to run intel out of the market.
Yeah how are you suppose to compete with a monopoly again, if there are no rules and they can do anything to sink you? I mean Intel basically paid companies to not carry AMD, not just cut their prices but they couldn't carry AMD to get the "special" pricing. I would say it is impossible unless you have unlimited money yourself, but then why would you want to go into business and compete with a monopoly?
 
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#20
A fine of EUR 1 060 000 000 has been imposed on Intel Corporation for the infringement

Ow^^
that must have hurt someone;)


Unfortunately that's probably nothing, compared to the profits they squeezed out because of these practices.
 

Easy Rhino

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#21
Merely having competition does not mean you're not a monopoly -- even Standard Oil "competed" with other companies back in the 1900's. :laugh:

A monopoly is defined as a "company, large enough so that its market position allows it to manipulate the prices of its products, instead of allowing the free market to do so." That's a monopoly.

These companies were forced to buy from Intel -- AMD could not meet their massive demand, not that AMD even needed to. They could've still bought some of their chips from Intel and some from AMD (especially considering AMD's were faster at the time), however Intel forced them not to.

I would advise you to read the entire thing up above, there -- if you're unwilling or unable to do so, either get someone else to do it for you, but otherwise I can't help you and I'm not going to try to convince you any further.
no disrepect, but let me rebutt. any company can manipulate its price regardless of its market position. they simply charge more or charge less. intel cannot be a monopoly if they have direct competition regardless of how weak AMD is. vendors do have a choice other than intel which means intel is not a monopoly.

vendors at the time requires a mass amount of chips, something AMD could not provide so they went with intel because they had no other choice. WELCOME TO REAL LIFE! intel put the screws to them and the vendors caved. that is what we call business. people imagine the mafia going in there and breaking some legs and tearing up the joint. that did not happen. it was good old fashion business tactics.

intel should not be punished because of AMDs inabality to run a company. as i said before, vendors could have indeed gone with AMD regardless of what intel was doing. it would have meant some short term pain but possibly if organized correctly a long term gain for the vendors and AMD. why didnt vendors rally around AMD? because they probably saw how disorganized AMD is. i mean you have to run a pretty crappy business if you have a superior chip yet vendors still do not want to back your company because you cant provide them what they need.

intel has shown over and over they provide a superior chip at a price vendors are willing to pay and at the end of the day consumers are willing to pay it as well. i dont see that as illegal. what i consider illegal is a bunch of thugs being hired to physically force the vendors to choose intel over amd. i guess that govt is illegal then because they created a massive fine againt intel forcing them to change their business practices to FAVOR AMD or they lose their freedom by going to jail.
 
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#22
Amd have been playing second fiddle to Intel ever since the core 2 duos because of there own imcometency seriously remember the original phenoms? Instead of looking for excuses Amd should be looking in there own backyard as they are seemingly now doing as there recent cpus have been much improved. Its easy to blame big bad Intel when most of there problems were self inflicted they had better cpus and were completly caught of guard by the c2d.
 

Frick

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#23
i dont see that as illegal.
You don't, the EU does. The rules are different here. For good or bad? Don't know, don't really care.
 
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#24
EU just wants a billion dollars ... meh
 
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#25
vendors at the time requires a mass amount of chips, something AMD could not provide so they went with intel because they had no other choice.
That's not what happened: if Intel wants to offer huge rebates should clients purchase very large amounts of their products, that's their right but, if they dictate to their clients what products to not purchase, be it as a condition for the rebates or not, that's not right, IMO.

intel has shown over and over they provide a superior chip at a price vendors are willing to pay and at the end of the day consumers are willing to pay it as well.
Not @ the time this started: back then, AMD had better products.

AMD's growing threat
The evidence in the Decision indicates the growing threat that AMD's products represented to Intel, and that Intel's customers were actively considering switching part of their x86 CPU supplies to AMD. For example, in an October 2004 e-mail from Dell to Intel, a Dell executive stated that " AMD is a great threat to our business. Intel is increasingly uncompetitive to AMD which results in Dell being uncompetitive to [Dell competitors] . We have slower, hotter products that cost more across the board in the enterprise with no hope of closing the performance gap for 1-2 years." In a submission to the Commission, Dell also stated that as regards Opteron, " in Dell's perception this CPU generally performed approximately […] better than the comparable Intel Xeon CPU at the time." As regards AMD's Athlon PC CPU, an internal HP presentation from 2002 stated that it " had a unique architecture", was " more efficient on many tasks" , and had been " CPU of [the] year [for] 3 consecutive years".