The European Commission (EC) is to drop its antitrust case against chip maker Intel, clearing the company of illegal marketing practices and abusing its market-leadership in the early 1990's.
An EC spokeswoman said: "After conducting our investigation, the Commission has come to a preliminary conclusion that the complaints [against Intel] are not founded."
The investigation was prompted after the EC received complaints claiming that Intel had limited new chip supplies, tied down customers through its 'Intel Inside' marketing campaign, and withheld information on the bus architecture of its forthcoming chip designs.
The 'preliminary conclusion' demonstrates the EC's intention to close its investigation, without issuing a formal conclusion.
If this proves unacceptable to the original complainants, they could insist the Commission report their findings. But it still remains unclear who the complainants are.
Both Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and VIA Technologies compete with Intel in Europe. Both companies have confirmed they provided information to the EC as part of the enquiry, but neither would confirm whether they had filed the initial complaint.
Had the chip maker been found guilty, it could have faced a fine of as much as 10 per cent of its European sales.
In September 2000 the US Federal Trade Commission mothballed a similar enquiry into Intel, again finding there was no grounds for a prosecution.
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