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Intel’s Negotiating a Consent Decree with the FTC

If the FTC had had its way Intel wouldn’t be able to offer volume discounts or bundled prices

Intel is doing whatever it must to head off what it has called a "misguided," poorly investigated monopoly maintenance trial by the Federal Trade Commission.

The only thing we don't know yet is whatever it is but Intel said late Monday that the pair had filed a joint standstill motion to suspend the proceedings set for September while they "consider potential settlement of the case" that the FTC filed in December charging Intel with messing with the chip sales of AMD and Nvidia.

Settlements talks were already well advanced in December when the FTC got a burr under its saddle about Intel's treatment of Nvidia and wanted to impose two dozen remedies on Intel including pricing controls that Intel called "unprecedented."

If the FTC had had its way Intel wouldn't be able to offer volume discounts or bundled prices; optimize its widgetry if the optimization disadvantaged rivals; have any say over who's using its IP to produce chips; write licenses without the government guiding its hand; sue competitors' third-party fabricators to protect its IP; or even restrict its licenses in case control of the licensee changed hands.

It even looked like the FTC wanted Intel to drop what Intel figures is billions of dollars worth of IP on Nvidia for nothing - like hand it an x86 license along with its interoperability secrets to create a third source. The FTC also wanted to micromanage Intel's advertising and promotional materials, riffle through all tests, reports, studies and demonstrations, and oversee its mergers and acquisitions, consolidations or combination of assets.

Monday's statement said, "The motion opens a window through July 22, 2010, during which time the parties will review and discuss a proposed consent order. The terms of the proposed consent order are confidential and Intel will make no additional public comment on the matter at this time."

Intel paid AMD $1.25 billion last year to settle its antitrust complaints worldwide and Dell is talking to the SEC about settling the agency's complaints about the handsome billion-dollars-a-year rebates Dell got from Intel and didn't quite explain to its shareholders why its returns looked so good.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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