Judge Dismisses Some Charges in Intel Antitrust Case: Report

A federal judge reportedly is throwing out some of the claims brought against Intel by the New York Attorney General's Office in an antitrust lawsuit.

A federal judge reportedly has thrown out several of the claims against Intel in an antitrust lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General's office, questioning the state's role in suing the giant chip maker on behalf of computer buyers and saying the statute of limitations had run out on some of the charges.

According to a Dec. 8 Associated Press report, the federal judge in Delaware questioned whether the New York Attorney General's Office had the authority to assume a "parental" role with individual PC buyers in filing the antitrust lawsuit in their name.

The judge also dismissed claims that involved PC purchases before November 2006, saying that while they would have been allowed under New York's statute of limitations, it is the three-year statute of limitations in Delaware that takes precedence.

The judge's decision comes two months before the scheduled Feb. 14 trial is set to begin. The lawsuit, filed in November 2009, accuses Intel of anti-competitive behavior, claiming that the chip maker used its money and dominant position in the global processor market to persuade computer makers like Hewlett-Packard and Dell to limit their use of chips from Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices.

The New York Attorney General's Office is claiming that Intel paid billions of dollars to HP, Dell and others to continue using mostly Intel chips in their PCs, breaking both federal and state antitrust laws.

Intel executives have denied the charges, saying that while they compete aggressively in the market, they do so within the law.

The New York prosecutors filed the lawsuit at a time when Intel was hearing similar accusations from federal and European regulators as well as from AMD. Earlier in 2009, the European Commission-the antitrust arm of the European Union-fined Intel $1.45 billion for similar actions in Europe. A month after the New York suit was announced, the Federal Trade Commission filed a similar lawsuit, which involved Intel actions taken not only against AMD, but also graphics chip maker Nvidia.

Intel and the FTC settled that court case in August 2010, with Intel executives continuing to say they had done nothing illegal but agreeing not to use its market dominance unfairly in the future.

In addition, the same month that the New York Attorney General's Office filed its lawsuit, Intel and AMD settled the various legal disputes between the two chip vendors, which had been going on for about eight years. AMD had claimed Intel had engaged in anti-competitive behavior, while Intel accused its rival of breaching cross-licensing agreements.

As part of the 10-year settlement, Intel agreed to pay AMD $1.25 billion, and the two entered an agreement regarding anti-competitive business practices. The settlement freed both companies from a long legal battle that had already cost each millions of dollars, and also signaled to the IT industry that two of its key players no longer would be hindered by legal distractions and could focus more of their attention on innovations rather than courtrooms.