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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Washington Reaches Accord With Intel in Antitrust Suit

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said it reached a tentative settlement of its antitrust suit against Intel Corp., the world's largest producer of computer chips, hours before opening arguments were set to begin in the case.

At issue was Intel's refusal to share technical details of its microprocessor chips with companies that build computers unless those companies agreed to turn over their own technologies in exchange. The government suit asserted that such practices violated federal antitrust law.

Microprocessors are the brains of computers. Without information about how the chips work, manufacturers cannot design their next generation of personal computers and work stations.

As part of the deal proposed Monday, Intel agreed to abide by an order that prohibits it from pressuring computer manufacturers to turn over their own technology in exchange for technical information about Intel's chips, people involved in the case said Monday.

Although government officials and Intel executives said they could not disclose the precise terms of the proposed settlement until it had been formally submitted to the Federal Trade Commission, officials did say that it achieved the purpose of the lawsuit. Lawyers for the commission had asked an administrative law judge to order Intel to end its practice of withholding valuable technology from computer manufacturers as a weapon in patent disputes with those companies. The government had not sought monetary penalties.

Along with the Justice Department's trial against Microsoft Corp., the Intel case has been widely viewed as among the most significant antitrust lawsuits in recent years. The two companies have been accused of maintaining monopolies in their respective industries by stifling competition and bullying computer makers, who are their biggest customers.