The FTC Press Release announcing the proposed settlement between Intel and FTC:
The Federal Trade Commission approved a settlement with Intel Corp. that resolves charges the company illegally stifled competition in the market for computer chips. Intel has agreed to provisions that will open the door to renewed competition and prevent Intel from suppressing competition in the future.
The settlement goes beyond the terms applied to Intel in previous actions against the company and will help restore competition that was lost as a result of Intel’s alleged past anticompetitive tactics. At the same time, the settlement will leave the company room to innovate and offer competitive pricing.
“This case demonstrates that the FTC is willing to challenge anticompetitive conduct by even the most powerful companies in the fastest-moving industries,” said Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “By accepting this settlement, we open the door to competition today and address Intel’s anticompetitive conduct in a way that may not have been available in a final judgment years from now. Everyone, including Intel, gets a greater degree of certainty about the rules of the road going forward, which allows all the companies in this dynamic industry to move ahead and build better, more innovative products.”
The press release explains that “A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation,” and announces the key components of the settlement:
Under the settlement, Intel will be prohibited from:
conditioning benefits to computer makers in exchange for their promise to buy chips from Intel exclusively or to refuse to buy chips from others; and
retaliating against computer makers if they do business with non-Intel suppliers by withholding benefits from them.
In addition, the FTC settlement order will require Intel to:
modify its intellectual property agreements with AMD, Nvidia, and Via so that those companies have more freedom to consider mergers or joint ventures with other companies, without the threat of being sued by Intel for patent infringement;
offer to extend Via’s x86 licensing agreement for five years beyond the current agreement, which expires in 2013;
maintain a key interface, known as the PCI Express Bus, for at least six years in a way that will not limit the performance of graphics processing chips. These assurances will provide incentives to manufacturers of complementary, and potentially competitive, products to Intel’s CPUs to continue to innovate; and
disclose to software developers that Intel computer compilers discriminate between Intel chips and non-Intel chips, and that they may not register all the features of non-Intel chips. Intel also will have to reimburse all software vendors who want to recompile their software using a non-Intel compiler.
The FTC vote approving the proposed settlement order was 4-0, with Commissioner William E. Kovacic recused. The order will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until September 7, 2010, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be sent to: FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To submit a comment electronically, please click on: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/intel/.