"The case is referred back to the General Court in order for it to examine the arguments put forward by Intel concerning the capacity of the rebates at issue to restrict competition", the ECJ said in a statement.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ), the bloc's highest court, ruled that the General Court, a lower tribunal, should reconsider an appeal by United States microchip maker Intel.
The European Commission hit Intel in May 2009 with a record fine for having abused its dominant position in the processor market. Intel had given the rebates to computer manufacturers, presumably to keep them from using AMD chips.
The Commission said Intel had given rebates to four major computer manufacturers - Dell, Lenovo, HP and NEC - on the condition that they purchased from Intel all, or nearly all, of their x86 CPUs. The case will now go back to court, giving Intel another chance to either reduce the fine, or get out of it entirely.
In its 2009 ruling, the Commission found that Intel, with a market share of 70 percent, had granted rebates to Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC in return for them putting Intel x86 processors into nearly all of their PCs.
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The commission is also investigating whether or not Qualcomm unfairly paid Apple to use its chips for the Cupertino, Calif. -based company's iPhones.
They did so by making the products of a hypothetical as-efficient competitor more expensive without the rebates than Intel's with the rebates.
Intel appealed the fine in 2014, but the General Court dismissed the action.
Intel appealed to the General Court, which specifically deals with complaints against other European Union institutions, on the basis that the fine was excessive and should be reduced or annulled. The EU is also probing Alphabet Inc.'s Google over concerns it abuses its dominance with its Android operating service by strong-arming phone makers and telecom companies into favoring Google's search engine and browser on their devices. The EU also said Intel made payments to electronics retailer Media Saturn Holding on the condition that it only sold computers containing Intel's microprocessors.
The lower court would have to examine on whether or not the rebates are actually restricting competition.