9 June 2004 The European Commission (EC) appears set to revive a long-dormant anti-monopoly investigation into Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker.
The EC, it emerged this week, recently delivered a number of formal letters to computer makers after one of Intel’s closest rivals, AMD, sent a fresh complaint to Brussels.
The EC stressed that this did not amount to a reactivation of the original investigation, which was carried out in 2000-2001 and later dropped after no evidence was found against Intel.
“We received a complaint from AMD and are conducting a fact-finding mission by sending letters to key players in the industry,” said an EC spokeswoman. “I would caution you against rushing to conclusions.”
One area of concern that the EC is believed to be probing is a claim that Intel threatened PC markers with retaliation if they supported AMD’s new 64-bit Opteron server chip and its 64-bit desktop processor.
The original investigation was triggered in 2000 by claims from AMD that Intel was abusing its dominant position in the market.
AMD welcomed the new developments. “We are very happy that the EC has taken a renewed interest in Intel’s market practice,” said a spokesman. “We suspect this will bring to light what we have experienced for years that Intel is acting as a monopolist power.”
But Intel remained in defiant mood. “We believe that our business practices are fair and lawful,” said a company spokesperson. “We have been working with the European Commission and we will continue to do so.”
The possibility of a fresh investigation into Intel comes three months after Brussels imposed a record fine on Microsoft for allegedly abusing its monopoly of operating systems.