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Intel antitrust trial date set

January 5 will be the start date for the FTC's high-profile antitrust case against Intel, an administrative law judge rules.

January 5 will be the start date for the Federal Trade Commission's high-profile antitrust case against Intel, an administrative law judge ruled today.

Judge James Timony, administrative law judge for the FTC, ruled that the trial would begin on the first Tuesday in the new year, a starting time that nearly splits the starting date requests of the FTC and Intel. Earlier in the day, FTC prosecutors made a motion to have the trial start in December while Intel argued for a mid-February start date.

The trial is expected to last approximately six weeks, sources have said.

Although the deadlines for discovery and other matters are not yet known, bringing the case to court will likely be time-consuming for everyone.

"There is going to be a lot of discovery," said Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman.

One factor that will complicate the case, according to Intel, is that the FTC has not clearly defined the issues it intends to present to the court. The range and scope of the issues will determine how much discovery needs to take place, he said. The FTC, claimed Mulloy, has not yet defined which market is at the center of its case.

The FTC has alleged that Intel uses unfair, monopolistic business practices to the detriment of computer vendors, processor manufacturers, and graphics chipmakers.

"Is it the systems market? We don't compete in that. Is it the microprocessor market? We compete in that and can build a defense there. Is it the microprocessor market and some related technology like graphics? That is a huge market and the defense will be significantly broader," Mulloy said.

In addition to today's scheduling motions, Intel will file on Monday its answer to the FTC's complaint as well as an appeal to the court's earlier rejection of Intel's motion to clarify the issues in the case.

The FTC did not provide comment in its court papers on its proposed trial calendar.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.