With settlement of FTC case, Intel seeks to end antitrust tangle

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Intel’s antitrust tangles, and FTC settlement

The Federal Trade Commission and Intel Corp. say they have settled an antitrust case against the chip-maker. Intel is the world’s No. 1 maker of microprocessors, the “brains” of personal computers.

The FTC has accused Intel of anticompetitive violations in the markets for central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs) used in personal computers and servers.

The following is a look at Intel’s previous antitrust tangles:

1991: Intel’s smaller rival, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., files an antitrust lawsuit against Intel amid years of legal disputes between the companies.

1993: The FTC drops a probe into alleged anticompetitive behavior by Intel.

1995: AMD and Intel settle all litigation between them. Intel gets $58 million, while AMD gets $18 million.

1998: The FTC accuses Intel of violating federal law by withholding technical information about its processors from computer makers with whom Intel was involved in patent disputes. Intel settled that case the following year.

2000: AMD files a complaint with the European Commission accusing Intel of abusing its dominant market position.

2005: Japan’s Fair Trade Commission finds that Intel violated antitrust rules there, a ruling Intel eventually accepts without admitting wrongdoing. AMD files antitrust lawsuit against Intel in a federal court in Delaware.

2008: Regulators in Korea fine Intel $18.6 million, a ruling Intel is appealing. U.S. Federal Trade Commission opens formal probe of Intel’s behavior.

2009: European regulators fine Intel a record $1.45 billion, a fine Intel pays but is appealing. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo files a federal lawsuit against Intel. Intel warns AMD that the spinoff of its manufacturing division violates the companies’ cross-license agreement. The companies settle, with Intel agreeing to pay AMD $1.25 billion and the companies entering into a new, five-year cross-licensing deal. The FTC sues Intel, adding allegations regarding graphics-chip sales to complaints made by others over central processing units.

2010: On Aug. 4, FTC announces settlement with Intel. As part of the deal, Intel agrees not to pay computer makers for avoiding rivals’ chips or retaliate against them when they do pick competing products — things Intel has long maintained it wasn’t doing anyway. The FTC deal goes further than previous cases in mandating that Intel needs to be friendly to its rivals in other significant ways, including modifying its intellectual-property agreements with rival chip-makers.

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