Intel settles New York antitrust case

Intel has, at last, settled its antitrust case with the New York attorney general, admitting no responsibility but coughing up $6.5 million. It is less than the hundreds of millions New York had been hoping for and is solely, Intel asserts, to help New York claw back some of what it spent on legal fees.

The original allegation from the Attorney General was that Intel had been making hardware companies offers that they couldn’t refuse. Intel was said to be pressuring companies into signing exclusivity agreements tied to unreasonably large cash incentives. It was also accused of threatening companies with dire consequences if they changed their minds.

This victory for Intel is certainly getting it excited on its corporate website. In a paragraph with the byline “The NYAG’s complaint is grounded more in rhetoric and politics than fact and law,” an Intel spinster says that New York made the claims for the “political purpose of providing sound bites for media attention”.

In the statement, Intel went on to say: “The NYAG’s conscious decision to use repeatedly the legal term “bribery,” to characterise Intel’s discounting, for example, is an outrageous hijacking of the meaning of language. As even the NYAG concedes, Intel provides rebates, or credits, against amounts owed to Intel, to reduce the cost of microprocessors to its customers.

“This is common in business and in every day life. A “bribe,” on the other hand, is a well-known legal concept”.

The Attorney General’s office, meanwhile, said in a statement that it believed the claims “had merit”, but “in light of the court’s decision believe that no purpose is served by pursuing the matter further”.

A $6.5 million dollar settlement will cause sighs of relief from Intel executives, tired from years of slogging it out in the courts. The book can be shut on this particular case.

Intel historians will remember similar charges brought against Intel which were settled. AMD took $1.25 billion from the company’s coffers, while the US Federal Trade Commission also successfully brought Intel to book on antitrust allegations.