FTC launches first lawsuit against Intel

In what is expected to be the first of at least two legal actions against the chipmaker, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued Intel Corporation for anti-competitive practices. Intel, which owns a monopoly of the microprocessor industry, was charged with violating U.S. antitrust laws because it denied customers access to technical information when those customers were involved in disputes with the company. The three customers that were named in the lawsuit--Digital, Intergraph, and Compaq--were each cut off from Intel technical information when they separately filed patent lawsuits against the chip giant.

Intel defended itself Monday, saying that it has a right to protect its intellectual property and that it is "not prudent" to continue doing business with companies that are suing it.

The FTC disagrees.

"If Intel can use its monopoly position in the market for microprocessors to prevent other firms from enforcing their own patents, other firms will have little incentive to invent new features to challenge Intel's dominance," said William Baer, the director of the FTC's antitrust division. "The case the commission is bringing today seeks to prevent Intel from repeating this conduct in the future."

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