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FTC looking into Autodesk

The company says it has received notice from the Federal Trade Commission about a probe into its business practices.

The Federal Trade Commission has begun an investigation of the business practices of Autodesk, marking a second time in a year that the software maker has faced regulatory scrutiny.

Autodesk said today that it received notice of the probe from the FTC. It added that the agency has not made any claims or allegations regarding the company's business practices or policies, nor have any charges been filed.

The computer-aided design software maker, arguing that it does not hold sufficient power in the CAD market to trigger any antitrust concerns, said it intends to cooperate fully with the FTC.

"Autodesk faces vigorous competition in each of its market segments from significant competitors, many of which are larger and have greater resources than Autodesk. We believe our business practices are in full compliance with the federal antitrust laws," said Marcia Sterling, Autodesk general counsel, in a statement.

Autodesk, a major player in Windows-based CAD software with roughly 70 percent of the market, last year settled an antitrust case with the FTC.

The case stemmed from Autodesk's $90 million acquisition of Softdesk. Regulators had said that Softdesk's IntelliCADD software would create an uncompetitive environment.

As a result, Autodesk reached an agreement barring it from acquiring IntelliCADD, or any company that owns or controls that technology, without first notifying the FTC. That agreement also called for Autodesk to notify the FTC of any such plans for the next ten years.

Sterling said the investigation, which began on April 10, did not appear to be related to the Softdesk case. But she noted that the company is not yet clear on the focus of the FTC's investigation.

FTC officials declined to confirm or deny the investigation.

Howard Morse, former assistant director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said that the investigation is likely focusing on the issue of monopolization, rather than an acquisition the company has made. Morse, a partner with the Washington law firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath, was involved in the Autodesk-Softdesk case while working for the FTC.

Last February, Autodesk made a multimillion-dollar investment in Motiva, which is an AutoCAD product data management company.

FTC regulators are also conducting a broad investigation into the business practices of Intel. (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)

The agency is also seeking more information from adapter card supplier Adaptec regarding its proposed $775 million buyout of Symbios.

Reuters contributed to this report.