Intel cleared of anti-trust lawsuit

Intel has come out of its big antitrust lawsuit in the US smelling of roses.

The complaint against the software company, which was filed in the US District in Delaware in 2005, was rejected by US District Court Judge Joseph Farnan, after the plaintiffs failed to show PC buyers were harmed by discounts Intel offered to manufacturers.

However, Intel hasn’t got away with it completely as the court holds more than 80 separate cases that  accuse Intel of wrongfully offering discounts to computer manufacturers and causing computer prices to be artificially inflated. One of these is an antitrust lawsuit filed by AMD, which was settled after Intel paid the company $1.25 billion last November, and was very similar to the case thrown out this week.

Both cases alleged that Intel used improper discounts and other tactics to deter computer makers from buying microprocessor chips from AMD, with the proposed class-action case focusing on alleged harm to consumers from Intel’s behaviour.

Intel has said this was not the case. It said lawfully discounting prices drove competition and kept PC prices down.

Vincent Poppiti, who was bought into the debate as a “special master” agreed. In a report supporting Intel’s claims he wrote that PC makers had discretion about how to use Intel discounts.

He said that in some cases they passed the benefits on to consumers in the form of lower prices – rubbishing the idea that all members of the proposed class of consumers suffered a “common impact”

“Plaintiffs cannot meet their burden with an expert’s general statements about economic theory, and simply throw up their hands when record real-world facts fail to conform to economic theory,” he added.