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EC relaunches Intel antitrust probe

New evidence means a 'fresh' investigation

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The European Commission has re-opened its investigation into allegations of unfair trade practices made against Intel.

The move follows fresh complaints from the chip giant's arch-rival, AMD, which claims Intel used rebate deals and marketing funds to coerce European PC makers into only buying Intel processors.

In April, AMD went to court in the US to seek access to 60,000 pages of Intel documentation it believes adds weight to its claim. The papers were offered up by Intel during a separate case. AMD believes that US law allows papers made public in such circumstances to be accessible to overseas judiciaries - in this case the EC.

AMD has already won the right to pass on the documents, thanks to a District Court ruling. On 1 October 2003, AMD asked the San Jose District Court to force Intel to release to EC investigators expert witness testimonies presented during Intergraph's anti-trust and patent violation action against the chip giant.

The EC's investigation into AMD's claims against Intel - allegations echoed by VIA - has gone on for three years, but was halted earlier this year. The EC said there was insufficient evidence for it to take action.

However, the EC said yesterday that a renewed complaint from AMD, which also supplied new evidence - presumably all or part of the 60,000-page haul - had proved sufficient cause to open "a fresh fact-finding mission".

A three-year probe made by the US Federal Trade Commission ended in September 2000 with no solid evidence of illegal business practices being found.

The EC has already ruled against member states which had previously specified Intel-only products in IT project tenders, though it said Intel was in no way complicit with that particular anti-competitive behaviour.

In the US, meanwhile, Intel faces three separate allegations of patent infringement. ®

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