Intel had asked the FTC to bar Commissioner Thomas Rosch from hearing the agency's lawsuit against the chipmaker because of his prior work with Intel. The FTC declined, saying Rosch's involvement with Intel was long ago and irrelevant to the current case, which accuses Intel of anticompetitive behavior in its dealings with AMD and Nvidia.
Intel has lost its bid to have one of the commissioners participate
in the Federal Trade Commission's lawsuit against the giant chip maker.
Hours before the FTC filed the antitrust complaint
Intel, officials with the company petitioned the commission to have
Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch disqualified from sitting on the case.
Intel claimed a conflict of interest because Rosch had worked with
Intel between 1987 and 1993, advising the company on numerous antitrust
Rosch was one of three commissioners who voted to move forward with
the lawsuit against Intel, which accuses the chip maker of
anticompetitive behavior not only in its dealings with rival Advanced
Micro Devices over the past decade but also in its current relationship
with Nvidia in the graphics chips space.
In his ruling
19, FTC Chairman Jon Liebowitz denied Intel's request, saying that
Intel officials had given no reason for questioning whether Rosch could
be impartial in the case, outside of the fact that he had worked for
"The bulk of the [Intel] Motion is dedicated to showing simply that
Commissioner Rosch represented Intel before the Commission in another
antitrust matter a number of years ago," Liebowitz said, adding that
"the matters upon which Commissioner Rosch previously advised Intel are
so distant in time-and concern technology, allegations, and business
relationships that are so dissimilar to those relevant to the present
matter-that they are not at all -substantially related' to the current
He also questioned the "eleventh-hour nature" of Intel's request,
given that Rosch had met several times with Intel without company
officials raising the disqualification issue.
The FTC's lawsuit against Intel surprised some industry observers,
who had assumed that the federal commission would back off of its
investigation following Intel's legal settlement with AMD
Nov. 12, which included a $1.25 billion payment and promises to refrain from any anticompetitive behavior.
In addition, Intel is still appealing the European Commission's
$1.45 billion fine levied in May and also is battling an antitrust
lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General's office.
However, the FTC expanded the scope of complaint against Intel to
include Nvidia and the GPU space. Nvidia and AMD-through its ATI
unit-are pushing the use of GPUs in general-purpose computing
environments. Intel and AMD also have been working to bring greater
graphics capabilities to their CPUs.
Intel officials have fired back
at the commission's suit, saying the agency had no understanding of the
processor and graphics businesses, that remedies being sought by the
FTC would hobble Intel's ability to compete and that the lawsuit goes
far beyond established antitrust law.
The agency expects the case, filed under the FTC Act, to be heard by
an administrative judge in September. Intel can appeal any ruling to
the federal Court of Appeals.