Intel in trouble ... again

Intel is now facing anti-trust investigations on both sides of the Atlantic.

Yesterday, New York state announced it had launched a formal investigation of Intel to determine whether the chip-maker broke state and US antitrust laws in an alleged bid to squeeze out its main rival, Advanced Micro Devices.

AMD alleged in a 2005 lawsuit (filed in Wilmington, Delaware) that Intel had abused its top position in the $30-plus billion market for microprocessors by encouraging its customers to avoid AMD.

New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said his office issued a broad subpoena seeking information after a preliminary probe raised questions about whether Intel coerced customers to exclude AMD from the worldwide market for microprocessors, the main computing engines of PCs, according to Reuters.

"Our investigation is focused on determining whether Intel has improperly used monopoly power to exclude competitors or stifle innovation", Cuomo said in a statement. "We will also look at whether Intel abused its power to remove competitive threats or harm competition in violation of New York and federal antitrust laws."

Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy confirmed the company had received the subpoena and would "work very hard" to comply with the subpoena, in keeping with its normal practice.

He told the news service: "We believe our business practices are lawful and that the microprocessor market is competitive and is functioning as one would expect a competitive market to function".

AMD has also been contacted by Cuomo's office.

Federal antitrust enforcers in Washington have yet to take up the matter, despite pressure from some US politicians.

Meanwhile, over in Brussels, Intel has now responded to an anti-trust case filed against it by the European Commission.

However, both the charges abd Intel's response remain confidential.

It could be months before the case is heard.

There are, however, other cases pending.

The Fair Trade Commission in South Korea filed antitrust charges against Intel in September 2007, and this case is pending.

In Japan, the Fair Trade Commission concluded in 2005 that Intel violated that country's Antimonopoly Act. Intel disagreed with the findings but accepted the commission's recommendation, a move that - Reuters reports - allowed it to avoid a trial.


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