EU tough on anti-monopoly rules; discomforts US companies- $1.45 billion fine to Intel; Microsoft to not include Internet Explorer in Windows 7; warns drug makers for antitrust probes

EU fined Intel the U.S. chipmaker more than $1.45 billion for allegedly anticompetitive moves against AMD that limited choice in PC users and manufacturers. The European Commission says Intel broke EU competition law by exploiting its dominant position with a deliberate strategy to keep AMD out of the market.  It says the company gave rebates to computer manufacturers Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC for buying all or almost all their x86 computer processing units, or CPUs, from Intel and paid them to stop or delay the launch of computers based on AMD chips.

On another case EU charged Microsoft with monopoly abuse in January, following a complaint from Norway’s mobile Internet browser maker Opera Software ASA, which said Microsoft was unfairly using its power as the dominant supplier of operating system software to squeeze out competitors.  In response Microsoft decided that Windows 7 sold in Europe will not include a Microsoft’s browser (versus the option whether to install it or not).  Computer manufacturers will have the option to add the browser back in, ship another browser, or ship multiple browsers.  Consumers who purchase retail copies will not have a browser that they can use to download a browser.  However European Union regulators said Microsoft Corp. was offering less choice, not more, by vowing to sell the next version of Windows without any Web browsers at all.  That is probably due to the fact that it would be awkward to download a browser from the internet if a browser in not preinstalled (could be downloaded through FTP for example).  Therefore it seems that this case is not resolved yet as another fine is under consideration.  Microsoft has been fined $2 Billion by the EU in the past, the highest fine ever, for not providing key code to rival software makers so their software could work with the Windows operating system.

On a different front the EU warned investigations against drug makers that try delay the introduction of generic versions of their drugs when their patent protection period expires.

Related articles:  Europe to Nail Intel on Antitrust, Business Week, May 11, 2009, Intel Fined Record $1.44B for Monopoly Abuse, Fox News May 13, 2009, EU fines Intel $1.45 billion for sales tactics, May 13, 2009EU: browser-free Windows gives no real choice, June 12, 2009, Microsoft to release Windows 7 in Europe without Internet Explorer, BetaNews,  June 11, 2009, EU Raises Microsoft Fine to a Total of $2 Billion, February 27th, 2008EU fines Microsoft record $1.4bn BBC, 27 February 2008EU warns of antitrust probes into drug makers, AP, 8 July 2009

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