The chief executives of both companies at the heart of the Intel antitrust suit gave interviews this week to put their cases to the public.
Intel's newly appointed CEO Craig Barrett moved to deny rumours of further complaints, this time that the company is dumping graphics chips at anti-competitive discounts.
Meanwhile, Jim Meadlock, CEO of Intergraph, the workstation maker whose lawsuit against Intel sparked off the antitrust action, told US reporters that Intel had used strong arm tactics to persuade customers to reject Intergraph machines.
Meadlock is one of the first industry executives to go public with allegations that Intel has used strong tactics to deter customers from buying from its rivals, even though rumours have circulated for years. The chip giant supposedly told large customers that it would withdraw subsidies and discounts if they bought from Intergraph.
This followed the workstation maker's decision to sue Intel for alleged patent infringement, which prompted the chipmaker to withdraw vital processor information from the company - the issue that sparked the antitrust action by the US Federal Trade Commission. Intergraph also claims Intel owes it royalties for all Pentium and PII processors sold, since it says these contain its patented technology.
"They went in and said 'you can buy from anyone but Intergraph. If you buy from Intergraph we won't fund it through subsidies," Meadlock said.
The example he used was of graphics specialist Xentropolis, whose business Intergraph had won through a deal that would be partially funded by Intel because it took Pentium products into a new market. After the two companies fell out, Meadlock claims Intel introduced Xentropolis to other workstation makers including Compaq and offered it a subsidy as long as it cancelled its Intergraph order. The client returned part of the contract to its incumbent supplier, Silicon Graphics.
Intel refused to respond to Meadlock's specific statements but reiterated its denial of all the FTC allegations.
And Barrett, in an interview in Japan, also hit back at reports that Intel is bundling its i740 graphics chip with Pentium II processors to bring the cost of the i740 from its list level of $28 down to as little as $7. Critics claim this amounts to dumping since smaller competitors, which cannot bundle their graphics chips, cannot match the prices.
Barrett dismissed the reports as trouble stirring by competitors. The complaints were "bull" he said, claiming Intel has investigated the rumours of dumping and found no evidence. An Intel spokesperson backed this up, claiming the i740 normally sells for around $24 and its price will be reduced to $22 later in the year.
The graphics chip sector is under intense pressure as Intel expands its business there.
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