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Intel Willing to Appeal FTC's Antitrust Ruling, CEO Says

Intel Willing to Appeal FTC's Antitrust Ruling, CEO Says

Intel's president and chief executive officer this week said he disagreed with the premise of the US Federal Trade Commission's antitrust complaint made yesterday against his company and said he is willing to appeal the final ruling in US Federal court.

Speaking in Tokyo recently, Intel President and CEO Craig Barrett and attendant company officials outlined their stance on yesterday's FTC complaint that declared Intel had withheld vital technology information from three computer vendors.

Following the complaint, an administrative judge has 13 months to hear opinion on the case and make a ruling. The FTC's commissioners then will either approve or deny the judge's decision.

After the FTC commissioners' ruling, the ball passes to Intel, which will appeal the decision in the US "Federal court system should the FTC conclude with an administrative finding against us", Barrett said.

"We disagree with the basic premise of the FTC's charge against us," Barrett said. "We believe we have abided by all the laws," he added.

The point of contention, Intel officials said, is whether Intel had the right to withhold intellectual property from companies that were suing it -- namely Digital Equipment, Intergraph and Compaq Computer.

Intel officials this week acknowledged that their company did not share intellectual property during legal battles with those customers.

Under current US law -- as Intel understands it -- a company being sued over intellectual property can "assert its legal right to intellectual property rights" -- or withhold intellectual property -- as a defence against the attacker, Intel officials said.

Thus, through its complaint, the FTC is trying to "assert a new legal theory which is not supported by (the) antitrust law of the US", Barrett said.

"The issue of what we did is not under dispute," said Howard High, communications manager at Intel. When sued over intellectual property by companies like Intergraph or Digital, "our response has been that we will not share intellectual property with them . . . whether or not that's a legal act is the question," High explained.

Company officials also questioned the overall validity of the antitrust case given that Intel has continually lowered prices on its products and spurred growth of the computer industry.

"I don't think this lawsuit has much to do with competition in the marketplace," Intel's Barrett said. As an antitrust case hinges on whether or not the party under investigation has damaged its competition, Barrett stressed that the companies in question are Intel customers, not competitors.

He also predicted that the lawsuit will not impact the health of the microprocessor market.


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