Cuomo Accuses Intel Of Antitrust Violations

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Computer chip giant Intel is the target of an antitrust suit filed by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Intel commands about 80 percent of the microprocessor market. An Intel spokesman denies the charges and says the company's sales practices were legitimate.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And computer chip giant Intel is the target of an new antitrust suit brought by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Intel commands about 80 percent of the market for microprocessors.

From member station KQED, Stephanie Martin reports.

STEPHANIE MARTIN: The New York attorney general accuses Intel of bribing computer makers with billions of dollars disguised as rebates. He also says the company threatened and retaliated against those who strayed from the Intel brand. And, Cuomo says, this ultimately restricted consumers' access to better products and lower prices.

Intel legal affairs spokesman Chuck Mulloy says Cuomo is buying into a story that Intel contends is simply untrue.

Mr. CHUCK MULLOY (Legal Affairs Spokesman, Intel): Our business practices are lawful. Consumers are benefiting. Nobody pays more for a PC today than they did a year ago.

MARTIN: Intel is also fighting antitrust battles overseas, most notably in Europe, where last May, European Union commissioners slapped the company with a nearly one-and-a-half billion dollar fine.

Stanford Law School Antitrust Professor Mark Lemley says the Cuomo lawsuit may be a harbinger of what's in store in the U.S.

Professor MARK LEMLEY (Law, Stanford Law School): The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Intel's practices, and Cuomo indicates that he has been coordinating with the Federal Trade Commission. So it's possible that we'll see activity at the federal level against Intel in the near future.

MARTIN: The Cuomo lawsuit alleges Intel threatened and gave illegal kickbacks to three of the nation's largest computer makers: Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

For NPR News, I'm Stephanie Martin in San Francisco.

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