June 22, 2010

Intel Talking To Antitrust Watchdogs

Intel said on Monday that it was talking with U.S. antitrust watchdogs about whether it has illegally monopolized the computer chip market.

Intel said in a statement that lawyers for the company and the Federal Trade Commission on Monday "filed a joint motion to suspend administrative trial proceedings while the parties consider potential settlement of the case originally filed by the FTC on December 16, 2009."

The motion "opens a window through July 22, 2010, during which time the parties will review and discuss a proposed consent order."

Intel said the terms of the possible deal "are confidential and Intel will make no additional public comment on the matter at this time."

The U.S. government accused the company in December of illegally using its market power to smother competition.

The FTC alleged that Intel has waged a systematic campaign for a decade to shut out competing microchips produced by rivals by cutting off their access to the marketplace.  The company faces similar charges in both Europe and Asia.

The two sides have 30 days to reach an agreement.  If this does not take place then a trial will go before an administrative law judge in September.

Intel produces about 80 percent of the microprocessors used in the world.

The FTC accused Intel of using "threats and rewards" with major computer makers like Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM to coerce them not to buy chips produced by rival companies like Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Intel denied these charges by saying it has merely been offering discounts.

European Union antitrust regulators fined Intel $1.45 billion last year, sang that it abused stranglehold on the semiconductor market to crush AMD.

Intel challenged an $18 million fine last year by South Korea's antitrust watchdog.


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