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Paul Merrell

Rapid - Press Releases - EUROPA - 0 views

  • The Commission found that Intel engaged in two specific forms of illegal practice. First, Intel gave wholly or partially hidden rebates to computer manufacturers on condition that they bought all, or almost all, their x86 CPUs from Intel. Intel also made direct payments to a major retailer on condition it stock only computers with Intel x86 CPUs. Such rebates and payments effectively prevented customers - and ultimately consumers - from choosing alternative products. Second, Intel made direct payments to computer manufacturers to halt or delay the launch of specific products containing competitors’ x86 CPUs and to limit the sales channels available to these products.
  • Intel awarded major computer manufacturers rebates on condition that they purchased all or almost all of their supplies, at least in certain defined segments, from Intel: Intel gave rebates to computer manufacturer A from December 2002 to December 2005 conditional on this manufacturer purchasing exclusively Intel CPUs Intel gave rebates to computer manufacturer B from November 2002 to May 2005 conditional on this manufacturer purchasing no less than 95% of its CPU needs for its business desktop computers from Intel (the remaining 5% that computer manufacturer B could purchase from rival chip maker AMD was then subject to further restrictive conditions set out below) Intel gave rebates to computer manufacturer C from October 2002 to November 2005 conditional on this manufacturer purchasing no less than 80% of its CPU needs for its desktop and notebook computers from Intel Intel gave rebates to computer manufacturer D in 2007 conditional on this manufacturer purchasing its CPU needs for its notebook computers exclusively from Intel.
  • Furthermore, Intel made payments to major retailer Media Saturn Holding from October 2002 to December 2007 on condition that it exclusively sold Intel-based PCs in all countries in which Media Saturn Holding is active.
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  • In its decision, the Commission does not object to rebates in themselves but to the conditions Intel attached to those rebates.
  • Intel structured its pricing policy to ensure that a computer manufacturer which opted to buy AMD CPUs for that part of its needs that was open to competition would consequently lose the rebate (or a large part of it) that Intel provided for the much greater part of its needs for which the computer manufacturer had no choice but to buy from Intel. The computer manufacturer would therefore have to pay Intel a higher price for each of the units supplied for which the computer manufacturer had no alternative but to buy from Intel. In other words, should a computer manufacturer fail to purchase virtually all its x86 CPU requirements from Intel, it would forego the possibility of obtaining a significant rebate on any of its very high volumes of Intel purchases. Moreover, in order to be able to compete with the Intel rebates, for the part of the computer manufacturers' supplies that was up for grabs, a competitor that was just as efficient as Intel would have had to offer a price for its CPUs lower than its costs of producing those CPUs, even if the average price of its CPUs was lower than that of Intel.
  • For example, rival chip manufacturer AMD offered one million free CPUs to one particular computer manufacturer. If the computer manufacturer had accepted all of these, it would have lost Intel's rebate on its many millions of remaining CPU purchases, and would have been worse off overall simply for having accepted this highly competitive offer. In the end, the computer manufacturer took only 160,000 CPUs for free.
  • Intel also interfered directly in the relations between computer manufacturers and AMD. Intel awarded computer manufacturers payments - unrelated to any particular purchases from Intel - on condition that these computer manufacturers postponed or cancelled the launch of specific AMD-based products and/or put restrictions on the distribution of specific AMD-based products. The Commission found that these payments had the potential effect of preventing products for which there was a consumer demand from coming to the market. The Commission found the following specific cases: For the 5% of computer manufacturer B’s business that was not subject to the conditional rebate outlined above, Intel made further payments to computer manufacturer B provided that this manufacturer : sold AMD-based business desktops only to small and medium enterprises sold AMD-based business desktops only via direct distribution channels (as opposed to through distributors) and postponed the launch of its first AMD-based business desktop in Europe by 6 months. Intel made payments to computer manufacturer E provided that this manufacturer postponed the launch of an AMD-based notebook from September 2003 to January 2004. Before the conditional rebate to computer manufacturer D outlined above, Intel made payments to this manufacturer provided that it postponed the launch of AMD-based notebooks from September 2006 to the end of 2006.
  • The Commission obtained proof of the existence of many of the conditions found to be illegal in the antitrust decision even though they were not made explicit in Intel’s contracts. Such proof is based on a broad range of contemporaneous evidence such as e-mails obtained inter alia from unannounced on-site inspections, in responses to formal requests for information and in a number of formal statements made to the Commission by the other companies concerned. In addition, there is evidence that Intel had sought to conceal the conditions associated with its payments.
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    This is an uncharacteristically strong press release from DG Competition. I still must read the order, but the description of the evidence is incredible, particularly the finding of concealment of its rebate conditions by Intel.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft Loses E.U. Antitrust Case - washingtonpost.com - 0 views

  • It ordered the software giant to untie the browser from its operating system in the 27-nation E.U.
  • The commission's investigation into Microsoft's Web-surfing software began a year ago, after the Norwegian browser-maker Opera Software filed a complaint. Opera argued that Microsoft hurt competitors not only by bundling the software, in effect giving away the browser, but also by not following accepted Web standards. That meant programmers who built Web pages would have to tweak their codes for different browsers. In many cases, they simply designed pages that worked with market-leading Internet Explorer but showed up garbled on competing browsers.
  • At the time of the complaint, Opera said it was asking E.U. regulators to either force Microsoft to market a version of Windows without the browser, or to include other browsers with Windows.
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    The Post too says that DG Competition ordered the unbundling of MSIE from Windows. But again no attribution for the statement. They also leave the impression that Opera's complaint regarding the undermining of open web standards was upheld, something not stated in either the Microsoft or DG Competition announcements. So the questions of the day are: [i] did the Commission order the unbundling of MSIE from Windows; and [ii] did the Commission also rule on the undermining of open web standards. The latter question could be of critical importance in the still ongoing proceeding regarding the ECIS complaint in regard to the undermining of ODF by Microsoft pushing OOXML.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft Ordered to Delete Browser - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union said Friday that Microsoft’s practice of selling the Internet Explorer browser together with its Windows operating system violated the union’s antitrust rules. It ordered the software giant to untie the browser from its operating system in the 27-nation union, enabling makers of rival browsers to compete fairly.
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    The Times goes farther than the DG Competition announcement, saying that Microsoft has been ordered to untie MSIE from Windows throughout the E.U. No source is attributed for the statement. The DG Competition announcement does not state what remedy it proposes to order. So take this report with a grain of salt. The Times is well capable of error.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft Statement on European Commission Statement of Objections: Statement of Object... - 0 views

  • REDMOND – Jan. 16, 2009 – “Yesterday Microsoft received a Statement of Objections from the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission. The Statement of Objections expresses the Commission’s preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law. According to the Statement of Objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer.
  • The Statement of Objections states that the remedies put in place by the U.S. courts in 2002 following antitrust proceedings in Washington, D.C. do not make the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows lawful under European Union law.
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    Microsoft's version of events, notable for the statement that DG Competition included a specific ruling that it is not bound by the U.S. v. Microsoft decision in the U.S. That only states the obvious, but is perhaps intended to forestall somewhat Microsoft arguments that the legality of its bundling was conclusively determined in the U.S. case. If so, it may have worked; Microsoft makes no such claim in this press release.
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