Chip maker Intel fielded its chief executive Paul Otellini to defend the company's business practices at an antitrust hearing in Brussels this week. The two-day confidential meeting with Europe's top antitrust authority, the European Commission, also involved competitors including AMD and European consumer group BEUC.

The Commission has charged Intel with abusing its dominant position in the market by paying computer makers for scrapping or delaying the launch of machines fitted with AMD chips, and of selling its chips for server computers at below cost to large customers such as governments and universities.

Intel has consistently argued that it is competing fairly in a very competitive industry.

The Commission's antitrust officials will now begin drafting a final ruling. There's no formal deadline for antitrust decisions.

Speaking after the hearing, BEUC director general Monique Goyens explained her organisation's interest in the case. "We want to ensure that the consumer interests are fully taken into account in competition policy in general and in its enforcement in the computer sector in particular," she said in a statement.

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