Friday, July 27, 2007

In other words

And you thought bribes are par for the course only in the east. Wake up. Elsewhere, they call it rebates.

For the past six years, Advanced Micro Devices has been pleading in a variety of Romance languages for the European Union to take action against rival Intel for alleged abuses of its market dominance, and yesterday the company finally got its wish. The EU's top antitrust regulator has charged Intel with illegal business practices conducted over the years "with the aim of excluding its main rival, AMD, from the x86 computer processing units (CPU) market." Among the alleged offenses: Intel gave rebates to computer makers if they promised to buy all or most of their chips from it; Intel paid computer makers to delay or cancel products that used AMD chips; and Intel sold chips to some strategic customers below cost when bidding against AMD.

Intel has 10 weeks to file an official answer, but for the moment released a "who, us?" response. "The way ... in which competition is played out in this market is through price discounts by Intel and by AMD, and there is nothing unlawful about those discounts," said general counsel Bruce Sewell. "We believe that these rebates are lawful anywhere in the world." Should the lengthy EU process end up going against Intel, the chipmaker could be fined 10 percent of its global revenue for each year it broke the law.

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