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Thu, Aug 05, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Intel, Fair Trade Commission settle antitrust lawsuit

AP , SAN FRANCISCO

Intel Corp has settled an antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The two sides confirmed the settlement late on Tuesday and the commission had scheduled a news conference yesterday morning to release details. Neither side would comment further.

With the settlement, which was expected, Intel is sweeping away one of the last reminders of a bitter, years-long campaign by a major rival that caused the world’s biggest semiconductor company a world of legal pain.

The rival — Advanced Micro Devices Inc — helped convince regulators around the world that Intel’s sales tactics harmed consumers and illegally injured rivals. Intel is accused of bullying computer makers into avoiding rivals’ chips and sabotaging rivals’ attempts to get their chips to work with Intel’s.

The FTC lawsuit is the harshest Intel has faced, and with the settlement the commission could impose the strictest rules yet on Intel’s behavior, potentially leading to lower prices that people pay for computers.

In the lawsuit filed in December last year, the commission accused Intel of wrongdoing in the markets for both central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs).

Intel holds about 80 percent of the global market for CPUs and more than 50 percent of the market for GPUs.

The FTC claims consumers have overpaid for computer chips because of Intel’s tactics to protect its dominance in both markets, such as paying computer makers to shun AMD’s chips and preventing future generations of Nvidia Corp’s graphics chips from working with Intel’s chips.

Intel claims the semiconductor market is competitive and functioning normally, and that its sales tactics are legal and that chip prices have fallen because of its technological advances.

Unlike other antitrust cases against Intel, the settlement with the FTC could mean the biggest set of changes for how Intel does business.

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