US Federal Trade Commission lawyers and Intel have jointly filed a motion withdrawing from adjudication the FTC's case against Intel, following a proposed settlement reached between the parties over the weekend.
The proceedings before the administrative law judge will be stayed while the commission considers the proposed settlement, according to separate statements from the FTC and Intel. According to FTC rules, the commission can accept the proposed settlement, reject it and return it to litigation, or take other action it deems appropriate, the FTC statement said.
The proposed consent agreement will not be made public unless and until it is accepted by the commission, according to the FTC.
Intel's top executive said in a statement that the compromise is a "win-win" for both the FTC and Intel.
"We are satisfied that the agreement gives us value for our intellectual property," said Craig Barrett, Intel's president and chief executive officer, in the statement. "This is acceptable to both parties and was the result of constructive dialog between Intel and the FTC."
Intel was charged with coercing firms into sharing technology patents by denying them access to future microprocessors, activity which wouldn't be illegal when practiced by a smaller, less powerful firm. But the FTC said that Intel was a monopoly, and that it exploited its power to snuff out competition and cement its chokehold over the microprocessor market. Intel doesn't contest most of the facts in the case, but had argued that the market it competes in is so competitive that its actions were justified and legal under intellectual property law.
In its complaint filed last summer, the FTC said Intel harmed competition by coercing three firms -- Compaq Computer , Digital Equipment (now owned by Compaq) and Intergraph -- into licensing microprocessor patents on terms favorable to Intel.
In each case, the firms had asserted patent infringement claims either directly or indirectly against the chip maker. And in each case, Intel tried to force the firms into favorable settlements by denying them access to samples and information relating to future Intel processors, which the firms depended on to carry out their core business, the FTC charged.
(Material from IDG News Service archives was used in this report.)