On remand, the General Court must consider Intel's argument about whether the rebates were capable of restricting competition.
It has also fined Google €2.4 billion for fiddling online shopping searches and has threatened to fine it €5 billion more on the way it sells its Android operating system. It's not clear yet if the ECJ's decision will have any impact on this case, or indeed any cases going forward, but it nonetheless represents a victory for American technology companies which claim they are unfairly targeted by European antitrust regulators.
The judgment provides welcome clarity for dominant firms, applying an effects-based approach for all types of rebates and removing the formalistic exception that the European Commission and General Court applied to exclusivity rebates.
And now the ECJ has ruled that Intel's antitrust fine should get a second look.
The ECJ's ruling that the Commission must consider whether exclusivity rebates are capable of producing anti-competitive effects is welcome confirmation that the European Union antitrust rules seek to sanction practices based on their effect on competition rather than their form.
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Sharapova said: "It's been a really great ride in the last week". "But ultimately I can take a lot from this week. Like Sharapova , Kenin moved from Russian Federation to Florida to further her playing career.
The Commission said Intel had given rebates to four major computer manufacturers - Dell, Lenovo, HP and NEC - on the condition that they purchased from Intel all, or nearly all, of their x86 CPUs. A spokesperson for Intel said: "We have always believed that our actions were lawful and did not harm competition".
The ECJ ruling could also give dominant companies more freedom over how they offer rebates and discounts.
This does not mean Intel is off the hook-rather, it means the General Court needs to examine Intel's legal arguments more closely than it did before, potentially giving Intel a chance to have the fine annulled or reduced.
Whilst the Commission had emphasised that the rebates at issue were by their very nature capable of restricting competition, such that an "AEC test" was not necessary, the CJEU noted that the Commission nevertheless "carried out an in-depth examination of those circumstances", setting out "a very detailed analysis of the AEC test". "The court sent the case back to the General Court for reassessment in light of its holding".