Japan's anti-monopoly watchdog rules against Intel in antitrust investigation

Tuesday, March 8th 2005, 8:29 am
By: News On 6

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan's anti-monopoly watchdog ruled against U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp. on Tuesday, saying it used unfair business practices to pressure Japanese clients to buy its microprocessor chips at the exclusion of rivals.

Japan's Fair Trade Commission said the semiconductor maker broke antitrust laws to try and dominate the market for central processing units, or CPUs _ the microprocessor chip that are silicon brain of all computers.

``Intel is engaging in actions to keep CPUs made by competing companies from being used,'' the FTC said in a statement. ``These actions ... are substantially limiting the CPU sales sector for domestic personal computer makers.''

The decision follows a raid in April 2004 by the FTC into Intel's three Japan offices on suspicions Intel was improperly urging Japanese personal computer makers not to use microprocessor chips manufactured by its rivals, like Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Intel has provided marketing money to Japanese PC makers that use Intel chips and brand their products with ``Intel Inside'' and ``Centrino'' labels. Centrino is Intel's wireless networking chipset.

Intel defended its practices after the ruling.

``Intel continues to believe its business practices are both fair and lawful,'' Intel said in a statement.

``Competition regulators should only intervene where there is evidence of harm to consumers,'' and the FTC did not sufficiently weigh such principles, the statement quoted Intel Vice President and general counsel Bruce Sewell as saying.

The company has 10 days to respond and was deciding its next steps, the statement said.

If Intel rejects the FTC's recommendations to drop its practices, the watchdog has the authority to launch legal proceedings against it.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company also has faced similar probes by antitrust regulators into its business practices in other parts of the world, including in the United States and in Europe.