Intel and the FTC Near an Antitrust Settlement

Intel appears to be nearing an antitrust settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
Intel appears to be nearing an antitrust settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

Intel (INTC) and the Federal Trade Commission are putting their antitrust battle on hold, as the parties review a potential settlement agreement that could end one of two major antitrust legal entanglements the chip giant currently faces.

The FTC and Intel filed a joint motion Monday to suspend the administrative trial proceedings, which currently has a hearing scheduled for Sept. 15. The FTC's five commissioners and Intel have until July 22 to decide if they can live with the proposed consent decree that's part of the settlement.

Last December, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Intel, alleging that the chipmaker was trying to keep its monopoly under lock and key. It charged that Intel not only offered lucrative marketing dollars to computer makers that agreed to limit or exclude competitors' chips in their devices but also allegedly bundled chip components in a way that would put rival graphics chipmakers at a disadvantage.

If the parties sign a consent decree, Intel will be bound for a period of time to the terms of the agreement that could potentially restrict some of its business practices. The chipmaker could also face a fine as part of that agreement.

Still Battling in Europe

Intel's antitrust woes won't end with just an FTC agreement. It's currently appealing a $1.45 billion fine that the European Commission issued against the company over similar allegations that it sought to maintain its monopoly via marketing dollars, to the detriment of consumers.The chip giant is asking Europe's General Court to overturn the EC order and fine, which is the largest ever for the commission.

Over the past several years, however, Intel has managed to pare down some of the antitrust cases against it that raised similar issues. One was a $1.25 billion settlement with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which not only filed a lawsuit against its bigger rival but also banged on the door of antitrust officials in Europe and Asia. Intel also reached a settlement with the Japan FTC, as well.

Shares of Intel were down around 1% on Tuesday, near $21.