Korea Fines Intel $25 Million for Antitrust Violations

The Korea Fair Trade Commission has fined Intel a reported 26 billion won (US$25.42 million) for abusing its dominant position in the microprocessor market, by offering rebates to South Korean computer makers in a way that unfairly harmed its rival Advanced Micro Devices.

Intel said it was unhappy with the ruling and indicated that it will appeal it to the high court in Seoul. Bruce Sewell, Intel general counsel, said Intel believes the Fair Trade Commission did not give full consideration to the evidence it presented.

"When we get to a court where we have a real judge looking at this, that [will be] good for us, and we have a right to do that," Sewell said.

The Commission issued a summary of its findings Thursday. The full findings are expected to be published in 30 to 60 days. Intel will then have 30 days to review them, after which it can file an appeal to the high court in Seoul.

The KFTC said Intel offered rebates to Korean PC makers including Samsung Electronics and Trigem Computer, if they did not also buy chips from AMD, according to various reports. The KFTC couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

KFTC officials first began looking into Intel's business practices in 2005, continuing the investigation with an "unscheduled visit" to Intel's South Korea offices in February 2006.

Last September the Commission issued its preliminary antitrust charges, known as a "statement of objections." Intel denied any wrongdoing.

The KFTC has shown no reluctance in the past to taking on large corporations that it found to have engaged in anticompetitive practices. In 2005, it fined Microsoft $34 million, and required that the company sell a Windows version in Korea that did not bundle instant messaging or Windows Media Player software.

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