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Intel To Fight European Antitrust Charges

The chip maker expects to refute charges that it is harming competition with the tactics it is using in its battle with rival AMD.
Intel said it's "disappointed" with European regulators decision to add antitrust charges against the chipmaker, while rival Advanced Micro Devices said the regulators were focusing on protecting consumers.

Unsurprisingly, Intel took the opposite view of AMD, saying European Union regulators were taking a position that prevented Intel from "competing fairly and offering price discounts which have resulted in lower prices for consumers."

EU regulators on Thursday launched new antitrust charges that accused Intel of paying a computer manufacturer to delay the launch of a line of machines based on AMD chips, The Wall Street Journal reported. In addition, regulators said Intel offered the manufacturer rebates in return for using only Intel chips in notebooks. The European Commission contained the charges in a "Statement of Objections."

"We're naturally disappointed the Commission has decided to issue a new SO," Intel said in a statement. The company said it would review the document and respond fully.

"We are confident that our response will show that the allegations in the SO are unfounded," Intel said.

For its part, AMD hailed the EC action, saying it "demonstrates that antitrust regulators worldwide are focused on protecting consumers."

"Intel has paid a leading retailer to turn away AMD-based computers from leading global computer manufacturers, which can only be regarded as robbing consumers of their fundamental right to choose," Tom McCoy, AMD's executive VP of legal affairs and chief administrative officer, said in a statement. "No antitrust laws anywhere in the world permit Intel to pay retailers and computer manufacturers to boycott non-Intel products."

The latest charges add to the EC's Statement of Objections of a year ago that notified Intel that the commission believed Intel used anti-competitive practices in trying to exclude AMD from the market. The charges included offering rebates on the condition that manufactures buy all or most of their processors from Intel, paying manufacturers to either delay or cancel product lines with AMD chips, and offering processors below cost in bids against AMD. Asian regulators have also issued antitrust findings.

In January of this year, the New York attorney general's office launched a formal antitrust investigation against Intel.

In March 2005, AMD filed a federal antitrust suit against Intel in Delaware. The trial is scheduled for April 2009. The suit has shown the intensity of competition between Intel and AMD, with each side having accused the other of trying to sway public opinion through media manipulation.

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