Major anti-trust battle looms after US files Intel complaint

Major anti-trust battle looms after US files Intel complaint
Tom Foremski The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed an anti-trust complaint against Intel claiming illegal business practices. Electronics Weekly examines both sides’ claims in what could prove a major anti-trust court room battle The prosecution The FTC complaint came after an eight month investigation of Intel’s business practices. The agency focused on Intel’s practice of withholding information on future microprocessors in legal disputes with other companies. It cited three examples: Intel’s dispute with Compaq Computer over a lawsuit Compaq filed against Packard Bell; Intel and Digital Equipment’s lawsuits over ownership of key microprocessor technologies; and its legal battle with customer Intergraph, a manufacturer of Intel based workstations. In these and other instances, the FTC says Intel abused its market dominance by withholding important information in order to gain access to patents through cross-technology licensing agreements. “If Intel can use its monopoly position in the market for microprocessors to prevent other firms from enforcing their own patents, other firms will have little incentive to invent features to challenge Intel’s dominance,” said senior FTC lawyer William Baer. “Intel has acted illegally. It has used its monopoly power to impede innovation and stifle competition.” The defence Intel claims it has done nothing wrong and has accused the FTC of attempting to change US anti-trust laws. “For more than ten years, Intel has taken unprecedented steps to ensure that all of our activities and policies are in full compliance with existing law. The Commission’s decision signals that they want to change the very laws upon which we’ve based our policies,” said Thomas Dunlap, Intel v-p and general counsel. Intel CEO Craig Barrett said that Intel has a strong position because the FTC complaint singled out three cases of its dealings with customers, not competitors, a key distinction under US anti-trust laws. Intel will claim that it was protecting its intellectual property, when it withheld future product data.


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