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US freezes Intel monopoly probe

Settlement likely

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Intel and the Federal Trade Commission look likely to reach an out-of-court settlement of competition charges brought against the chip giant.

In late 2009 the FTC filed charges against Intel. It accused the company of illegally using its dominant market position to crush rivals like AMD and strengthen its monopoly.

But yesterday lawyers from Intel and from the FTC filed a joint motion calling for a halt to proceedings while they discussed a possible settlement.

The motion would give both sides until 22 July to agree a consent order. Intel said the terms of that order were confidential and it would make no further comment. Presumably talks are at a reasonably detailed stage if the FTC is prepared to freeze its legal action.

Intel was also accused of tweaking its compiler code in order to make rival chips perform worse. The FTC further charged the company with operating a similar anti-competitive strategy in the market for graphics chips.

In 2009 similar charges in Europe were settled, in exchange for €1bn - the highest fine ever imposed on a company.

Intel paid AMD $1.25bn to settle regulatory complaints and other lawsuits.

The chip behemoth still faces charges from the New York Attorney General that it used its weight to lock AMD out of crucial distribution channels.

Intel's statement is here. ®

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