Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 8th Aug 2009 09:55 UTC
Legal Earlier this year, the European Commission slammed Intel with a massive fine, penalising the chip maker for its anticompetitive practices. A report by the European Union's ombudsman has now criticised the EC for its conduct, as the EC did not perform proper record keeping, leading to the loss of some evidence. It won't turn the tide for Intel, but it does raise an important question: how fair are these EC antitrust proceedings?
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Resentment
by FreakyT on Sat 8th Aug 2009 12:13 UTC
FreakyT
Member since:
2005-07-17

I'm not sure if this has any basis in fact or if I'm just delusional, but when I visited Europe I got a distinct impression that there was some level of resentment about using American software/hardware. I can't help but wonder if all these ridiculous antitrust proceedings are just manifestations of that.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Resentment
by Beta on Sat 8th Aug 2009 12:36 UTC in reply to "Resentment"
Beta Member since:
2005-07-06

when I visited Europe I got a distinct impression that there was some level of resentment about using American software/hardware.

Only as much as there is American resentment at jobs going overseas (particularly to India), or that China produces most of their products…

It may be the higher prices and the general lack of translation and localisation… or the disregard the EMEA regions gets as an after-thought.
It may correlate but it’s not targeted afaik, any other industrial nation could get the same ire.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Resentment
by Tuishimi on Sat 8th Aug 2009 16:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Resentment"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Only as much as there is American resentment at jobs going overseas (particularly to India), or that China produces most of their products…


The difference is that ubiquitous hardware (intel) and software (Windows) are the target.

It may correlate but it’s not targeted afaik, any other non-European Union industrial nation could get the same ire.


I fixed that last sentence for you.

Reply Score: 2

RE:
by gustl on Sun 9th Aug 2009 17:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Resentment"
gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

I think the article is mistaken wildly.

There are all means for a company to defend themselves in a court.
Microsoft actually used their defense in a court as lagging tactics, so that giving the SMB protocol and AD protocol to the Samba Project was delayed by approximately 4 YEARS !!!

It is just, that you get a nice invoice first, and can appeal to a court only to not having to pay.
It is very much like getting a ticket for speeding. You get the ticket, and only when you have a ticket in your hands you can appeal. Only then a judge gets to handle the case. If you pay the ticket on receipt, then game is over.

Also the impression that only US companies get fined huge sums is a wrong one.
Just a year ago a cartel of EU-based companies got fines of similar size as Microsoft and Intel. Siemens got a fine of half a billion EUROs. The whole cartel of companies got fined MORE than Intel or Microsoft.

In fact most such fines hit EU based companies.

The amount of money for the fine is determined by the size of the company, so large companies get higher fines.

The EU budget is NOT fattened up by these fines, the EU member states just pay less to the EU.

I do not know of any system in the world which is better suited to keep companies from misbehavior or bring them back in line with the law, without having a negative impact on companies which behave well.

Just look at Microsoft: They misbehaved, but they were not able to buy themselves out of it. They even had to be slapped with a daily fine to get them to behave well. In the USA I guess they would have gotten away, or would have had a way to delay the issue by 10 years or more.

In the case of misbehaving in the market, putting things right FAST is a major part of doing justice. Because getting a judge to say "you were right" 10 years after the victim was bullied out of the market might bring some satisfaction to somebody, but will certainly not put things right in any way.

Reply Score: 3

Speculation?
by Beta on Sat 8th Aug 2009 12:29 UTC
Beta
Member since:
2005-07-06

The ombudsman states in a report that the European Commission did not take into account a meeting during which an unnamed Dell representative told EC investigators in 2006 that AMD processors were problematic due to "very poor" performance. It's impossible to find out what, exactly, the Dell representative said however, because the EC did not keep a written record of the meeting. When Intel asked for a record of the interview, the EC denied the meeting ever took place.


A meeting that the EC says didn’t exist, that features an unnamed Dell representative (ie, cannot be verified), and the only evidence is Intel saying it existed? Colour me unimpressed with this story.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Speculation?
by Tuishimi on Sat 8th Aug 2009 16:11 UTC in reply to "Speculation?"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

But when it comes to Apple and monopolies, Microsoft and linux code, Microsoft and toaster code, American companies in general, you are pretty blatantly anti. So how can we take this comment? You support your own, which is good, nothing wrong with that.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Speculation?
by sbergman27 on Sat 8th Aug 2009 17:10 UTC in reply to "RE: Speculation?"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

But when it comes to Apple and monopolies, Microsoft and linux code, Microsoft and toaster code, American companies in general, you are pretty blatantly anti. So how can we take this comment? You support your own, which is good, nothing wrong with that.

Ah! The old "ad hominem in a velvet glove" ploy. Essentially translating to "You are so totally biased that your views are meaningless... but I'm not really attacking you."

Please, let's try to keep the discussion on a higher level than that.

Beta very reasonably points out the lack of tangible evidence that has been presented to support Intel's claims.

Edited 2009-08-08 17:11 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Anti American feeling in Europe
by shotsman on Sat 8th Aug 2009 13:28 UTC
shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

Perhaps it comes down to the prices we have to pay for 'stuff' sold by American Companies in Europe.
It is common to see the same number in GBP as in USD.
With the exchange rate at around 1.70 USD/GBP this is really silly.
It is almost worth flying to NYC for the weekend and buying a copy of Photoshop Creative Suite retail. The price difference (especially with Adobe's latest 10% price hike in UK) is not that great. Oh, btw, several companies in the US won't ship to Europe because of pressure from the manufacturers so don't aske if we can't buy stuff over this new fangled thing called the interweb and have it shipped.
Another example is the MSI Wind U100. The $ price clearly shown inside the packaging is $200.00 (plus Tax). Retail (in tax) over here it is over £200.00. There is NO EXCUSE as this is not made in the USA but is pure price gouging.
Maybe I'm wrong but as a consumer I can only repoty what I see.

Reply Score: 3

Spellcheck Member since:
2007-01-20

I agree that US manufacturers should eat the cost of European tax.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by moleskine
by moleskine on Sat 8th Aug 2009 14:10 UTC
moleskine
Member since:
2005-11-05

It's pretty hard to have an opinion on this since the truth of the matter - as distinct from allegations and innuendo - is not known. I think one can say that the law isn't about being "fair", it's about applying the law. Nor is the law necessarily a level playing field. Laws can be rigged for or against wealthy and influential parties, legislators can by bought by lobbyists, judges can be biased and due process is used routinely by all large companies as part of their drive to maximize advantage. This often takes the form of stringing out proceedings not with the aim of winning anything but with the aim of damaging an opponent by preventing them from doing something - or from stopping you doing something - while proceedings drag on for months or years.

So I'd guess that the EU's procedures may be ham-fisted and they may be capable of a lot of improvement. But they are still a lot better than nothing when the alternative is giant corporations running all over us.

Reply Score: 2

No defense
by dmantione on Sat 8th Aug 2009 14:52 UTC
dmantione
Member since:
2005-07-06

I keep wondering and wondering what crap people write about the EU without taking any effort in taking a looking at how the antitrust enforcement works

The argument that no defense is possible is utter nonsense. If the DG Competition finds a company in violating the rules of the internal market, it will send a "Statement of objections".

The company in question has to respond to this. If you think the DG Competition gets it wrong you have full posibilities to explain why. Address the objections and you get will away without fines in many cases. Remember the DG Competition does fine to punish, it fines to change behaviour.

True, the competition enforcement agency is not a court. It does not need to be either, I doubt that there is an EU member state that doesn't have an out-of-court competition enforcement agency.

If the company thinks the DG Competition sees it all wrong, then it can still have the court case. Not only that, like any court case, appeal is possible. So there are two opportunities to object to a ruling.

But: There is more. Like for any EU institution, the EU Ombudsman monitors if the DG Competition does it work correctly. So, there is a additional way a company can defend itself if DG Competition sees it all wrong.

Please tell me if that is not sufficient to protect the rights of a company like Intel.

Edited 2009-08-08 14:57 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE: No defense
by sbergman27 on Sat 8th Aug 2009 15:20 UTC in reply to "No defense"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

I keep wondering and wondering what crap people write about the EU without taking any effort in taking a looking at how the antitrust enforcement works

Thank you for this informative outline of the formal procedures. This was much needed, as certain posters to OSNews have been strongly implying, of late, that the companies under investigation have no chance to defend themselves. What is particularly disappointing to me, as someone who has harbored respect for them, is that I know these people to be otherwise well informed enough that it is very hard for me to interpret their recent posts as being in good faith. Rather, it is painfully clear that their attempts have been to deceive.

Your clear outline of the procedures laid down is most timely, helpful, and constructive.

Reply Score: 1

RE:
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 8th Aug 2009 20:57 UTC in reply to "No defense"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Please tell me if that is not sufficient to protect the rights of a company like Intel.


First and foremost, let me state that I'm in agreement with the fact that Microsoft and Intel have been fined. There's no doubt about the validity of those fines for me. However, what irks me, is the way we get there.

The EC is the judge, executioner, and collector. There is no possible way to justify this in any modern, Western nation. This time, we all more or less agree with the fines - but what if we did not? What if you were the accused, and were facing a administrative process where the judge, executioner, and collector were one and the same person? Would you accept that?

Sure, you can send in your complaints - but those complaints get handled by the same party that is accusing you! So, you can drag it on to court after having been fined - does that undo the damage done? Again, in this case Intel and Microsoft are probably indeed guilty - but what if they weren't? The damage to their image would've been done.

It's simply medieval. Like in any other case where laws might have been breached, it should be handled in a proper court of law, with an independent judge. Every other person and company in the EU has the right to a fair trial, and there is no reason whatsoever why monopoly abuse should somehow be handled differently for weird, magical reasons.

Edited 2009-08-08 20:58 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE:
by dmantione on Sat 8th Aug 2009 21:17 UTC in reply to "RE: "
dmantione Member since:
2005-07-06

What if you were the accused, and were facing a administrative process where the judge, executioner, and collector were one and the same person? Would you accept that?


This happens everytime I drive too fast. No court to defend myself, just an administrative sanction only. I can still go to court if I disagree with the fine. And I don't think I have much choice not accepting the system, this is how the system works.

Administrative enforcement happens everywhere in our society. In fact, the NMA in the Netherlands works the same way as the DG Competition. And think of the FIOD, the Keuringsdienst van Waren, the Autoriteit Financiële Markten, the OPTA, ... They all work outside the courts, and with all of them you can appeal their decisions.

It's perfectly normal what happens here, I don't think there is any civilized country where sanctions can only be imposed by courts, the legal system would get flooded by repetitive cases. As soon as the work becomes specialized or repetitive you will find a country will move the enforcement of that task outside the courts.

Edited 2009-08-08 21:19 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE:
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 8th Aug 2009 21:28 UTC in reply to "RE: "
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Probably a rarity for internet discussions, but that's a damn fine point you just made. Didn't think of it that way.

You're simply... Right.

Reply Score: 1

RE:
by sbergman27 on Sat 8th Aug 2009 21:40 UTC in reply to "RE: "
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

The EC is the judge, executioner, and collector.

Could you please clarify why you think that appealing in the European Court of First Instance, as Intel has done, is not sufficient due process?

A fine is levied against a company and they get to appeal it in court. I don't see what is "medieval" about that.

They even get about 2 years respite from paying the fine, simply by filing their appeal.

Reply Score: 2

The appeals court doesn't allow for
by MollyC on Tue 11th Aug 2009 17:03 UTC in reply to "RE: "
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

cross examination of witnesses or evidence. That's fine, since that's not the role of appeals courts anywhere. But the EC proceedings don't allow for that either. The EC proceedings are not trials. They are not court proceedings. The accused has no right to see the evidence or accusers against them if the EC doesn't want to show it to them. It's well known that in the "network protocols" "proceedings" against Microsoft, Microsoft was not allowed to see all of the evidence against it, evidence that the EC based their dictate on. For example, the "expert" tech guy that was used claimed that he couldn't implement Microsoft's protocols based on the materials that Microsoft had provided. Microsoft was not allowed to question him, or cross-examine his findings. But his findings were used to levy a 500 million dollar fine (something like that) for delaying the release of "adequate" documentation.

Oh, then the EC made a 2nd deadline to get "adequate" documentation, but it was taking too long, mainly because the EC didn't bother to say what "adequate" meant, since they never explained why the previous documentation was "inadequate", since Microsoft was never allowed to query the "expert" as to why he found it inadequate. Eventually, and I grudgingly give the EC credit for this, the EC sent another tech guy to Microsoft and explained more precisely what "adequate" documentation would be, and he also recommended a new, third deadline that Microsoft should meet regarding his more precise documentation request. The EC approved of that new deadline. But when the 2nd deadline came up, the EC levied another fine, even though they'd approved a new deadline. Microsoft did meet the third deadline, but suffered two fines for the previous two deadlines, both of which were missed because the EC didn't say what "adequate" documentation would be, then refused to say why the first documentation released was "inadequate", and then they approved a third deadline but still levied a fine for the second deadline when that came up. And the appeals court approved of all of that extra-judicial behavior by the EC. The appeals court is a rubber stamp for the EC's decrees.

Once the EC informs you that they've begun an "investigation", the guilty verdict has already been reached. At that point, you can go through the motions of fighting the charge (difficult to do when you aren't allowed to see the evidence), but that's all for show. The fine is inevitable at that point.

Now we see that the EC doesn't even bother to keep track of their "evidence" properly. I would not be surprised if the evidence lost just happened to be exculpatory.

Reply Score: 2

RE:
by Kawarau on Sat 8th Aug 2009 21:45 UTC in reply to "RE: "
Kawarau Member since:
2009-08-08

It's simply medieval.


The European Union is quite young, and i am sure there are many areas that need improvements over time.

Even though this is an out of court proceeding, there is independant overseeing, if the findings are not to the likings of the accused, they may take it up in the European courts first instance.

So don't call it medieval and try to make it sound like an unfair situation for corporations, look at the entire chain, this is just the first part of it...

Reply Score: 1

Don't change what works well
by gustl on Sun 9th Aug 2009 17:32 UTC in reply to "RE: "
gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

The EU can certainly need overhauling of many areas, but especially enforcement of good behavior of companies in the market is one of the things in which the EU has the best system on the planet, in my opinion.

Reply Score: 2

Dell as a primiary witness is "shaky" ...
by cade on Sun 9th Aug 2009 00:16 UTC
cade
Member since:
2009-02-28

I would not trust Dell's submission.

Dell reckon AMD's gear back in 2006 were underperforming which contrasts my Opteron experiences. Also, Intel have been late to the technology/innovation party.
e.g. Intel recently (2008) cloned AMD's direct connected architecture about 4 years after AMD had introduced it in Opteron platform.
And, Intel is about 10 times bigger than AMD (assets wise).

There has been a strong affinity between Dell and AMD for quite a while before the Opteron platform surfaced.
e.g. Back in 2000 when Michael Dell was saying AMD's Athlon CPUs were "too fragile".

http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/soa/Michael-Dell-AMD-technology-too-fr...

Back then, the Athlon K7 CPU platform was known for it's better gaming ability. I remember reading years ago that the unreal tournament coders would order custom built Athlon boxes for development of Unreal Tournament engine/game. AMD had more advanced floating point hardware and could handle running hotter while producing the better performance. This is fine as long as you used good components such as good quality power supply, memory modules, motherboard, etc. However, back then, this did not suit Dell's platform since it would have increased their prices (the higher quality, but more costly, parts you'd want to use with an AMD box were overkill for an Intel box).

But then again if you owned a Porsche, would you buy Porsche mechanical parts or non-Porsche cloned-parts.

The same with AMD boxes ... you would pay extra for the higher quality components to ensure that you had the better computing experience.

Then again, why is it only Dell had something to say about AMD an no one else (e.g. Compaq, HP, IBM, Sun, etc.).

Later, Dell started selling Opteron systems.

This article (May 2006)

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1021324/why-dell-now-does-...

is a reminder of how AMD's Opteron platfrom caught Dell/Intel with their pant's down.




Telos

Reply Score: 1

AMD's underperformance
by bousozoku on Sun 9th Aug 2009 02:16 UTC
bousozoku
Member since:
2006-01-23

I think the Dell executive was referring to a lack of kickbacks/discounts that Intel have been giving for a very long time.

It seems to me that there were such allegations all the way back to the 80286 days.

Otherwise, as has been said, AMD was doing quite well in server performance.

Besides, can we trust any government body to do what's right or not be a bit sloppy?

Reply Score: 2

kittybaby
Member since:
2009-08-10

I'm not sure if this has any basis in fact or if I'm just delusional, but when I have seen the related topics on "Militaryflirting.c o m". I got a distinct impression that there was some level of resentment about using American software/hardware

Reply Score: 1