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FTC commissioner thinks Intel settlement hard to police

Intel not a monopoly -- official

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FTC commissioners involved in the accusation that Intel holds a monopoly in the chip market have given some of their reasons for settling with the chip giant. In a statement on the FTC Web site, Robert Pitofsky, Sheila Anthony and Mozelle Thompson review the decision while commissioner Orson Swindle, who dissented against issuing the complaint last year, claimed the case was hard to prove and will be difficult to enforce. Swindle claims in his statement that while "Intel has long bestrode the market" for microprocessors, there is doubt whether the market "is as unassailable" as the complaint suggested. He claimed that "it is widely recognised" that Intel faces vigorous competition in the sub-$1,000 segment. Swindle also said that even if Intel has monopolistic power in the MPU market, he had misgivings about the theory of violation underlying the patent. He thought that it would have been hard for the FTC to prove its case. He claimed that the terms of the settlement are hard to enforce. "Regarding the proposed order itself, some observers have characterized it as having achieved whatever objective prompted the Commission's suit against Intel. I am not so sure, in part because of my uncertainty (discussed earlier) over what message the complaint was meant to communicate and in part because of the very terms of the order. In fact, given my reservations about the merits of the complaint, I would be more concerned about the order -- comprising a difficult-to-enforce mandate to "sin no more," with a major proviso and some significant exceptions -- if it seemed likely to impose real and significant restrictions on Intel." ®

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