Litigation: Intel wants 593 instead of 38 million euros in compensation from the EU

Image: Intel

Intel was unjustly ordered by the European Commission to pay one billion euros in 2009, according to the latest case law. The money was repaid by the EU in early 2022, including € 38 million in interest. According to Intel, it was too little: the group is asking for € 593,177,661.75 in compensation.

Intel consistently wants a 1.25% + 3.5% interest.

Intel was fined € 1.06 billion by the EU in May 2009 for abusing a dominant position in the market. In January 2022, this ruling was overturned by the Court of the European Union (EuG). The justification was: the European Commission did not adequately investigate Intel’s objections at the time. The € 1.06 billion was then transferred back to Intel in January, including € 38 million in interest, which corresponds to an effective interest rate of 0.29 percent over a 12-year period. At the time of the ruling in May 2009, the interest rate at the ECB was 1.25 percent, but then gradually dropped to 0 percent from November 2011 to March 2016 (Statista).

Intel does not want to accept this bill, but is asking for an interest rate of 1.25 per cent for the entire term, at which the European Commission was supposed to borrow the money from the ECB in May 2009, plus an additional 3.5 percent or, if the court fails to comply with this request, another reasonable surcharge as compensation. This is the only way to compensate for the damage caused by the illicit payment of € 1.06 billion, which the EU is obliged to compensate under Article 340 TFEU.

The CJEU will now have to decide whether 1.25% should be applied over all 12 years while the ECB grants loans for two weeks and whether a total of 4.75% compensates for damages that Intel did not explain in detail in the request.

The next payment to Qualcomm?

Such a judgment would not be without further consequences. Because the Intel case wasn’t the only defeat of the EU competition guardians recently. Four and a half years after the European Commission fined Qualcomm € 997 million for abusing a dominant position in the baseband LTE chipset industry, Qualcomm also recently won the appeal. The reason given in this case was: there were too many procedural errors.

Again, a large sum of millions in compensation is likely to be owed, provided the judgment is ultimately valid. Because, as with Intel, the final word for Qualcomm has probably not yet been said.

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