Intel, FTC in Talks to Settle Antitrust Lawsuit

The FTC filed a lawsuit in December 2009 accusing Intel of anti-competitive business practices intended to stifle competition from AMD and Nvidia. Intel and the FTC have now filed a joint motion to suspend the legal proceedings while the two sides work to negotiate a settlement.

Intel and the Federal Trade Commission have suspended legal proceedings related to the lawsuit filed by the federal regulators against the chip maker while the two sides try to negotiate a settlement.

In a statement released June 21, Intel officials said the two sides agreed to file a joint motion to suspend the administrative trial proceedings to give the parties time to negotiate. According to Intel, the motion calls for suspending the proceedings until July 22.

Intel's statement indicated that a consent order has been proposed, and will be a key topic of discussion during the negotiations. However, terms of the proposed consent order were not released.

The FTC on Dec. 16, 2009, filed a lawsuit against Intel, accusing it of practicing anti-competitive behavior designed to hinder competition from rival Advanced Micro Devices and graphics chip maker Nvidia.

The federal regulators said Intel used its dominant position in the x86 chip market to coerce OEMs like Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard into limiting their use of processors from AMD, and Intel had altered some of its technology-such as compilers-to hurt the performance of products from AMD and other competitors.

The allegations echoed those leveled by other regulatory bodies. The European Commission, the antitrust arm of the European Union, fined Intel $1.45 billion in May 2009, a fine the chip maker is appealing.

In addition, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York filed a similar lawsuit against Intel in November 2009 for practices that allegedly were intended to illegally stifle competition from AMD.

The FTC also accused Intel of practicing anti-competitive behavior against Nvidia. All the agencies accused Intel of using financial incentives and coercion to convince systems makers to limit their use of competing products.

In December, Intel ended its longstanding legal dispute with AMD in a settlement that included a $1.25 billion payment to AMD. Lawsuits between Nvidia and Intel are still ongoing.

Intel officials have strongly defended Intel business practices, insisting that while their company has been aggressive in the market, it has not used its dominant position illegally. While Intel did settle its legal issues with AMD, company officials did not admit to any wrongdoing.

In a sharp statement issued two weeks after the FTC filed its lawsuit, Intel officials said the agency did not understand the x86 chip marketplace, and that the lawsuit contradicted established antitrust regulations.