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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Washington Agency Opens Antitrust Suit Against Intel

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government's antitrust case against Intel Corp. opens Tuesday, charging the company used its dominance in the manufacture of chips for personal computers to stifle competitors and new technologies.

The Intel case brought by the Federal Trade Commission is the government's second front in antitrust battles against the companies that dominate the personal computer industry f the so-called Wintel duopoly.

A case brought by the Justice Department and 19 states against Microsoft Corp. recessed last month but will resume again in April or May.

FTC staff lawyers argue that Intel is such a force that it sets the hardware standards everyone else must follow and the firm wants to keep things that way.

Intel forces customers to surrender their intellectual property and rolls the innovations into its Pentium chip to stay far ahead of potential competition, the government alleges. That violates antitrust laws that bar a company from using monopoly power to preserve or extend its monopoly.

Intel disagrees. In its pretrial brief it argues there is "overwhelming evidence that competition is thriving" and that the chip industry is aggressively pursuing new technologies.

The trial, expected to last six to 10 weeks, is due to open in Washington in front of FTC Administrative Law Judge James Timony. His decision may be appealed to the four FTC commissioners and then to a federal appeals court.

The FTC staff will argue, as it did in a pretrial brief, that Intel "coerced major, established customers into granting access to their technology on terms favorable to Intel." Those customers include Intergraph Corp., Compaq Computer Corp. and Digital Equipment Corp. Digital has since been acquired by Compaq.