Otellini: The FTC doesn't have the power to fine us

— 1:15 PM on December 21, 2009

In a surprising move last week, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Intel, accusing the chipmaker of hurting competition in both the microprocessor and graphics processor markets. The suit included many of the allegations AMD made before receiving a juicy $1.25-billion settlement in November.

Intel already sent us its official response. However, last Friday, Intel CEO Paul Otellini sat down with Fox Business Network's Liz Claman and shed a little more light on his company's position.

Otellini started off by saying the FTC doesn't have the power to levy a fine. As we noted last week, the agency seeks court orders to change the chipmaker's business practices, instead. Otellini elaborated a little there, too, asserting that the FTC wants to force Intel to license its technology to competitors and prohibit the company from giving volume discounts to big customers.

Regarding the FTC's accusations, the CEO claimed "much of the stuff that's in the complaint has been settled between us and AMD." The FTC accused Intel of covertly tweaking its compiler to slow down competing processors, as well, but according to Otellini, the European Commission initially made that claim and later retracted it "because there was no substance to it." (The Commission did fine Intel $1.44 billion for other transgressions, though.)

What about the claims Intel is playing dirty in the graphics business? The FTC hasn't done its homework there, according to Otellini: "The FTC brought the parts of the complaint that had to do with graphics without really ever going into Intel and looking at any discovery. . . . In fact, the first time we heard about graphics was December 8th, and they sued us less than a week or so later." Calling the lawsuit "truly misguided," Otellini believes the FTC rushed to get a complaint out "for a bunch of internal reasons."

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