Intel antitrust trial gears up for debut

More than 50 industry figures including officials from Intel, Compaq and AMD have been listed as potential witnesses in the US Federal Trade Commission's antitrust trial against Intel, which is scheduled to begin March 9.

Among a host of experts and corporate IT players, Intel CEO and president Craig Barrett and the company's chairman Andy Grove may be called to testify in the much-anticipated case.

The FTC accuses Intel of using its dominant industry position to coerce three companies -- Intergraph, Compaq and Digital (which has since been acquired by Compaq) -- into licensing certain technology patents on Intel's terms. Intel did this, according to the FTC, by cutting off access to important information about its future products until the three firms yielded to Intel's terms. The result was to stifle competition in the market place, the FTC says.

Intel has countered that it was perfectly within its right to withhold intellectual property from the three firms -- particularly since they were each suing Intel at the time for alleged patent infringement. Further, the company denies having a monopoly in the microprocessor market, and says its actions didn't harm competition.

Other potential witnesses include former Digital chairman and chief executive, Robert Palmer; Rodney Schrock, president and CEO of Compaq's Alta Vista division; as well as executives from Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices.

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