BRUSSELS (AFP) — Intel brought out the big guns Tuesday to defend the world's largest microchip maker against EU antitrust charges, with chief executive Paul Otellini in Brussels for a hearing with European regulators.
Intel has two days, at a closed-door hearing starting Tuesday, to fight charges from the European Commission that the Santa Clara, California-based company abused its dominating grip on the microchip market.
If Intel is unable to convince regulators of its innocence, Europe's top competition watchdog can order the company to change its business strategy and slap huge fines on it.
After a six-year investigation, the commission accused Intel in July of offering "substantial" rebates to computer makers that mostly used its chips.
Europe's top competition watchdog also alleged that Intel had made payments to clients to delay or cancel products using chips made by its US rival Advanced Micro Device, and selling its own chips at below cost in some cases.
"We hope to convince the commission that the microprocessor market is competitive and is behaving as one would expect a competitive market to behave," spokesman Chuck Mulloy told AFP before the hearing got underway.
AMD executive vice president of legal affairs Thomas McCoy was in Brussels to square off against Intel at the hearing.
"Intel cannot avoid facing up to its illegal behaviour," AMD spokesman Jens Drews told AFP, adding that Intel "has systematically curbed competition, slowed the pace of innovation and harmed consumers everywhere."
AMD, the second biggest computer chip maker, has long accused Intel of using its grip on the market for microchips -- the brains of personal computers -- to choke off competition.
Intel's central processing units make up the computing power behind 80 percent of the world personal computers, while AMD controls about 17 percent.
Last month, EU regulators widened their antitrust case against Intel by raiding its German offices as well as major computer retailers in Britain, France and Germany looking for further evidence that the company had abused its dominant market share.
However, that separate investigation is not due to be addressed at the hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Apart from the EU case, Intel faces an antitrust investigation in the United States.
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