The FTC and Intel reached a surprise preliminary agreement. The case had been focusing on several contentious issues.
Does AMD's success mean Intel doesn't have a monopoly?
Intel will point
to AMD's surge in the past year as evidence that no monopoly exists. The
FTC will argue that Intel still has 70 percent of the market--presumptive
evidence of a monopoly--and that in any event, AMD has not hurt Intel in
its main markets for performance processors.
Does it matter if competition was hurt?
Intel claims that the FTC has
no case because companies such as AMD were not hurt when Intel pulled its
advance samples and product information
from Compaq, Intergraph, and Digital. The FTC, meanwhile, says it doesn't
have to show damage to competition, just that Intel acts increased the
likelihood of less competition. Again, the FTC's case hinges on the court
accepting the broader standard.
From what company did Intergraph acquire the Clipper patents?
If Intergraph acquired the patents from National Semiconductor, as Intel
asserts, a cross-licensing deal between Intel and National gives Intel
"absolute immunity" from any patent claims over the Clipper technology. The
FTC and Intergraph, meanwhile, maintain that Intergraph in fact obtained
the patents from Fairchild Semiconductor.
What were Digital's motives?
The FTC will claim Intel pulled NDAs from Digital to retaliate against that company's filing of an intellectual
property lawsuit. But Digital did pretty well in the settlement, offloading
a manufacturing facility that was draining its resources. Was Digital,
Intel will ask, really a victim?
When is a customer always a customer?
The FTC will claim that Intel's
market position means that it can't simply stop selling microprocessors to
an established client. Intel says otherwise. Silicon Valley business
practices hang in the balance.