On Tuesday, European antitrust regulators raided offices of Intel and several of its customers in at least four European Union (EU) countries, including England, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The regulators were looking for evidence that the chip-making giant engaged in illegal activities to thwart competition from AMD. AMD, you may recall, recently sued Intel because it believes Intel illegally abused its monopoly power.
The EU investigation has been ongoing for four years, but has picked up steam in recent months because of related Intel antitrust problems in other areas of the world. Aside from the previously mentioned AMD suit in the US, Intel faces antitrust problems in Japan as well, and Japanese regulatory officials raided Intel offices there in April. However, Intel continues to maintain that it competes with AMD.
The European raids included offices of Dell Computer, as well as other PC makers, distributors, and retailers. Intel says it plans to cooperate with the EU investigation. "We have provided the staff of the \[EU regulatory branch European\] Commission (EC) with tens of thousands of documents and hundreds of hours of interviews," an Intel spokesperson said. "Intel believes that its business practices are both fair and lawful."
Intel's problems are closely related to those Microsoft has faced. Because of its dominant position in the market--Intel sells over 90 percent of all microprocessors--it is legally required to behave differently than non-monopoly companies.