Intel and antitrust: A brief history
- 17 December, 2009 07:03
The Federal Trade Commission's antitrust lawsuit against Intel marks the latest development in one of several antitrust cases that have dogged the world's largest chip maker for years. Here's a rundown of Intel's brushes with antitrust investigators and lawsuits around the world since 1990:
Dec. 19: Microprocessor maker Cyrix filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Texas. "Intel has engaged in a campaign of unlawful exclusionary practices to protect its coprocessor monopoly from competition by Cyrix," the company said in a statement.
June 29: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) informed Intel that it was investigating the company's business practices.
Aug. 20: Advanced Micro Devices brought a $2 billion antitrust lawsuit against Intel in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California, alleging that Intel "engaged in unlawful acts designed to secure and maintain a monopoly."
Dec. 19: U.S. District Court Judge James Ware dismissed part of AMD's antitrust lawsuit against Intel because a four-year statute of limitations had passed for some actions listed in AMD's complaint. AMD declared its intention to press forward with the lawsuit anyway.
May 28: Processor maker Chips and Technologies sued Intel for antitrust violations in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. The claims were a response to a February 1992 patent lawsuit filed by Intel.
Feb. 4: Chips and Technologies agreed to dismiss its 1992 antitrust claims against Intel as part of a settlement to resolve a patent dispute between the two companies.
July 15: The FTC completed its investigation into Intel's business practices, saying no evidence was found to support charges of anticompetitive behavior.
Feb. 4: Cyrix dismissed its 1990 antitrust claims against Intel as part of a patent-dispute settlement between the two companies.
Jan. 11: AMD and Intel announced a broad legal settlement that ended several court cases between the two companies, including the 1991 antitrust lawsuit filed by AMD.
Aug. 27: The FTC requested additional information from Intel concerning its plans to acquire Chips and Technologies, citing antitrust laws. At the time, Chips and Technologies was a major supplier of graphics chips.
Sept. 25: The FTC began a second antitrust investigation into Intel's business practices. This investigation was conducted separately from the review of Intel's offer to acquire Chips and Technologies.
Jan. 13: The FTC decided not to seek an injunction against Intel's acquisition of Chips and Technologies but announced plans to "continue the investigation into the lawfulness of the acquisition."
April 23: The FTC ruled that an October 1997 legal settlement between Intel and Digital Equipment that included the sale of Digital Equipment's semiconductor division, including its Alpha processor, to Intel would violate U.S. antitrust law if completed. As a result, the FTC required Digital Equipment to offer licenses for its Alpha processor to both AMD and Samsung Electronics as part of the deal.
June 8: The FTC issued an antitrust ruling against Intel. The FTC found that Intel stopped providing important technical information about its products to Digital Equipment, Compaq Computer and Intergraph after the three companies took legal action against Intel to enforce microprocessor patents they held. Intel also threatened to stop selling microprocessors to those companies, the FTC said.
March 17: The FTC accepted a settlement with Intel over the 1998 antitrust ruling. The agreement required Intel to refrain from withholding technical information from customers involved in intellectual-property litigation with the company, but did not constitute an admission of guilt on the chip maker's part.
Sept. 26: The FTC ended its second investigation into Intel's business practices and decided to take no further action against the company.
April 8: The Fair Trade Commission of Japan (JFTC) raided the offices of Intel's Japanese subsidiary and several Japanese computer companies as part of an investigation into Intel's business practices.
March 8: JFTC ruled that Intel violated Japanese antitrust laws and hurt competition in the country's processor market.
March 31: Intel disputed the JFTC's findings, but did not contest them and agreed to refrain from certain business practices.
June 27: AMD filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The lawsuit detailed allegations of anticompetitive behavior by Intel in the United States, Asia and Europe.
June 30: AMD sued Intel in the Tokyo High Court and the Tokyo District Court, seeking more than $50 million in damages arising from the chip maker's anticompetitive actions in Japan.
July 12: European Commission investigators raided the offices of Intel and PC manufacturers in several countries as part of an antitrust investigation.
Feb. 9: Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) officials raided Intel offices in South Korea.
July 17: AMD filed a complaint against Intel with Germany's Federal Cartel Office, claiming that a deal between Intel and retailer Media Markt blocked the sale of computers based on AMD processors at hundreds of retail outlets.
Sept. 11: European Commission antitrust officials announced plans to investigate the complaint filed in Germany by AMD against Intel and Media Markt.
July 27: The European Commission charged Intel with antitrust violations. It accused Intel of offering rebates to PC manufacturers that buy the majority of their processors from Intel, paying PC manufacturers to delay or cancel products based on AMD processors, and selling processors below cost when bidding against AMD for contracts with server makers.
Sept. 12: The KFTC issued preliminary antitrust charges against Intel while continuing its investigation into the company's business practices in South Korea.
Jan. 10: The New York State Attorney General launched an antitrust investigation of Intel. The chip maker was served with a subpoena seeking information on its pricing practices and "possible attempts to exclude competitors through market domination."
Feb. 12: European Commission investigators raided Intel's office in Munich. The offices of retailers Media Markt and DSG International were also raided by investigators.
June 6: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission served a subpoena to Intel, opening another antitrust investigation into the chip maker. Intel says it will work cooperatively with the FTC to provide information.
July 17: The European Commission leveled another set of antitrust charges against Intel, saying "that Intel has infringed rules on abuse of dominant position with the aim of excluding its main rival AMD from the x86 central processing units market."
May 13: The European Commission finds Intel guilty of antitrust violations in the PC microprocessor market and fines the company $1.44 billion, saying Intel's actions harmed millions of European consumers. The main antitrust abuses involved paying rebates to system manufacturers and to Europe's largest IT retailer, Media Markt, in order to shut out Intel's closest rival, AMD.
July 22: Intel appealed the $1.44 billion fine in a European court.
Nov. 4: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Intel in the U.S. District Court in Delaware, alleging that company engaged in a "systematic campaign" of illegal conduct to protect a monopoly. Cuomo alleged that Intel extracted exclusive agreements from large computer makers and threatened to punish those perceived to be working too closely with Intel competitors.
Nov. 12: Intel and AMD settled all antitrust litigation and patent cross-license disputes the companies had with each other. Intel agreed to pay AMD $1.25 billion, while agreeing to a set of business practice provisions and a five-year cross-licensing agreement. AMD agreed to drop all regulatory complaints and pending legal disputes against Intel, but the settlement does not prevent other organizations from pursuing legal action against Intel.
Dec. 16: U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed antitrust lawsuit against Intel, alleging that Intel has waged a "systematic campaign" to cut off rivals' access to the marketplace and prevent adoption of superior products produced by competitors."Intel has engaged in a deliberate campaign to hamstring competitive threats to its monopoly," Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said in a statement. "It's been running roughshod over the principles of fair play and the laws protecting competition on the merits. The commission's action today seeks to remedy the damage that Intel has done to competition, innovation, and, ultimately, the American consumer."