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Intel sues FIC, Everex as Via legal action mounts

FTC exhorted to re-investigate Chipzilla for anti-competitive practices

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Intel has expanded its legal war against Via Technologies by filing a bevy of fresh lawsuits against the Taiwanese chipset maker as well as companies that have adopted Via's products. As predicted here in mid-September, legal action has been extended to include mobo manufacturers, including UK and Singapore companies, and smaller PC manufacturers, as well as renewed action against Via in the US. FIC, a well known motherboard manufacturer, and Everex are named in the legal actions. That has prompted one individual to write an open letter to a number of hardware sites and to his congressman suggesting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) re-opens its investigation. Intel sued Via back in late June after it appeared that the Taiwanese chipset company's PC-133 solution was stealing thunder from plans that the chip giant had itself. At the Computex show in Taipei, most mobo manufacturers were voting for Via rather than Intel solutions, as reported here at the time. Via was a prime mover in organising the PC-133 SDRAM trade association. According to an insider at Via at the time, Intel was particularly angry that its licensee might be able to produce chipsets, and so also motherboards, that would support the 133MHz front side bus ahead of time, using SDRAM rather than Rambus memory. Sources said that Intel has sued both UK and Singapore companies, naming Via as a third party in the law suits. Everex, a PC manufacturer, is one of the companies named in the new actions. The new legal moves could well be a warning to larger Via customers, such as IBM and others, to steer clear of Intel's competition. But because of the debacle over i820 motherboards recently (Caminogate), Intel representatives have suggested people use Via chipsets in the meantime, which makes the fresh legal moves all the more surprising. Meanwhile, Warren Steiner has penned an open letter to The Register and a large number of other hardware sites, suggesting that the FTC re-open its investigations into the chip giant. According to Steiner, who repeats allegations about shortages of BX chipsets being used as a marketing tool by Intel, the chip giant is also threatening the success of Athlon AMD in the marketplace by putting extra pressure on Via, which manufacturers chipsets which support the alternative microprocessor. He adds in his letter: "Intel's opposition to VIA's Apollo Pro 133 chipset is based upon two points. VIA proceeded to produce a chipset which would support 133 FSB in advance of Intel's implementation and release of a chipset supporting 133 FSB. Further VIA chose to support 133 Mhz SDRAM instead of the more expensive Rambus memory supported by Intel. Intel is a major stock holder in RamBus Ink and stands to gain financially should RamBus become an industry standard. For this reason, Intel has been trying to force RamBus support upon all manufacturers, whether they want it or not, and clearly most manufacturers do not." Intel has denied that it is behaving unethically. Tonight it is Halloween, when, as German legend has it, Eckhards roam the streets... ®

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