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Intel May Be Edging Toward Antitrust Showdown in Europe

October 05, 2006

Tyler Baker, co-chairman of Fenwick & West's Antitrust and Unfair Competition Group, was recently quoted in an E-Commerce Times story entitled, "Intel May Be Edging Toward Antitrust Showdown in Europe."

The European Commission's five-year investigation of alleged antitrust violations at Intel took a turn recently when officials presented the case to "devil's advocates," positioning the company closer to prosecution. Retailers claim to have been pressured into carrying PCs with Intel-only chips and there are anticompetition questions surrounding Intel's rebate program.

Surprisingly, rebates can be a gray area in anticompetition law, even in the United States, commented Baker, a partner with Fenwick & West in Silicon Valley.

"I don't know all of the details about the rebate systems Intel uses, but I can tell you it is a very much unresolved question in this country," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Many U.S. courts are hesitant to find that rebates are illegal, because they are a form of price competition – which antitrust laws encourage, he explained.

Though charges in the case have yet to be filed, Intel could see a situation similar to Microsoft's recent woes before the European Union.

"Intel is a very dominant company, and dominant companies are sometimes judged by different standards. That is true both [in the U.S.] and in Europe," he pointed out.

Read the entire article by E-Commerce Times reporter Erika Morphy.