Chip giant Intel has filed details of its case against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with a full trial expected to begin in early January next year.
Intel admitted that it had deprived customers, including Compaq, Digital and Intergraph, of both information and samples of processors after it entered into arguments over patents.
But the company claimed it had the right to refuse to give its intellectual property to its customers or to license such technologies, because Intel does not have a monopoly in the chip business. The companies concerned are not competition but customers, Intel said.
The FTC had failed to give details of just how its competition would be damaged by it withdrawing such samples and intellectual property. Intel's competitors, it argued, are companies such as AMD and Cyrix, rather than customers like Compaq, Intergraph or Digital.
It further claimed that the decision to prevent its customers having access to intellectual property or chip samples was a wise business move and did not involve alleged anti-competitive action at all.
The argument Intel is making is similar to the legal arguments it is marshalling against Intergraph, which is taking a separate anti-trust action against the chip giant.
But although Intel seems to be arguing on legalistic grounds, there is a strong possibility that the FTC may widen its case against the company before the start of the trial on January 5th.
If that happens, other matters could be thrown into the ring, including allegations that it dominates the graphics market through its effective ownership of the AGP technology.
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