Wednesday, November 04, 2009

New York State Charges Intel with Monopolization

This posting was written by Jeffrey May, Editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

Intel Corporation unlawfully maintained its monopoly in the market for x86 central processing unit (CPUs) in violation of New York’s Donnelly Act and Sec. 2 of the Sherman Act, the State of New York alleges in an 83-page complaint filed today in a federal district court in Delaware.

The state is seeking injunctive relief and damages on behalf of its governmental agencies as well as New York consumers who purchased products containing x86 CPUs.

According to the complaint, Intel “engaged in a systematic worldwide campaign of illegal, exclusionary conduct to maintain its monopoly power and prices in the market for x86 microprocessors, the ‘brains’ of Personal Computers (PCs).” Intel allegedly bribed and bullied computer makers in an effort to deprive Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. of distribution channels for its competing microprocessors.

“Rather than compete fairly, Intel used bribery and coercion to maintain a stranglehold on the market,” said New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, in a statement announcing the complaint.

“Intel’s actions not only unfairly restricted potential competitors, but also hurt average consumers who were robbed of better products and lower prices," Cuomo charged."These illegal tactics must stop and competition must be restored to this vital marketplace.”

European Commission Fine

New York’s complaint follows a May 2009 European Commission (EC) decision fining the computer chip maker €1.06 billion (approximately $1.44 billion U.S.) for violating EC antitrust rules prohibiting the abuse of a dominant position. The EC found that Intel engaged in illegal anticompetitive practices to exclude competitors from the market of computer chips called x86 CPUs.

In addition to imposing the fine, the EC ordered Intel to cease the challenged practices. In September, the EC made public a redacted version of its May decision. Intel has announced that it was appealing the EC decision to the Court of First Instance of the European Community.

Federal Trade Commission Investigation

The Federal Trade Commission has also been conducting an investigation of Intel’s allegedly anticompetitive practices. Intel announced in June 2008 that the FTC had issued a subpoena related to its “business practices with respect to competition in the microprocessor market.”

At that time, the company explained that it had been working closely with the FTC since 2006 on an informal inquiry into competition in the microprocessor market and that it had provided the Commission staff with a considerable amount of information and thousands of documents.

No comments: