Intel arranges legal ceasefire with FTC over graphics chips

23 Jun 2010

Intel has agreed to talks with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over alleged anti-trust issues in the technology market in the past, the present and into the future.

The FTC launched an investigation into Intel’s practices in December saying it wants to prevent the Silicon Valley giant from using its dominance in the semiconductor market to squeeze out rival players in the graphics chip market NVIDIA and AMD.

The FTC said that a new statute, or hybrid law, gives it “a unique role in determining what constitutes fair methods of competition”.

Last year the European Commission slapped Intel with a €1.06bn fine for allegedly violating anti-trust rules. Intel said it intends to appeal the decision insisting it does not violate European law.

Intel holds at least a 70pc share of the x86 CPU microprocessors market globally, which is currently worth approximately €22bn (US$30bn) per year, with European sales accounting for approximately 30pc of that.

In the action taken in December in the US by the FTC, it seems not only does the FTC want to avoid the largescale anti-trust battles of the past but wants to create a structure for the future.

It emerged yesterday that Intel has arranged a legal ceasefire with the FTC until 22 July and the two parties will put a hold on filings related to the case. Unless an agreement is reached by that stage legal proceedings will resume.

Last November Intel agreed to pay AMD US$1.25bn to bring their legal battles to an end.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years