The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed suit against Intel today, accusing the chip-maker of engaging in a decade-long run of anticompetitive practices. The FTC claims Intel used bullying tactics and bribes to steer computer makers such as Dell, HP and others away from superior rival products. This echoes other recent cases that led to a $1.25 billion settlement with AMD and a $1.45 billion fine in Europe.
What's more, the FTC says the company is now abusing its market dominance to stifle competitors in the GPU market -- namely Nvidia, which has publicly accused Intel of foul play. According to Nvidia, Intel has deliberately misinterpreted its chipset license to prohibit the GPU-maker from producing chipsets for any Intel processor with an integrated memory controller -- or nearly all of the company's new CPUs. This is in addition to Intel allegedly keeping Nvidia's Ion out of netbooks through unfair bundling prices on Atom and chipset combos.
The FTC noted that it isn't seeking monetary damages from Intel. "We are frankly more focused on conduct," said Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC's bureau of competition. The case also isn't a direct antitrust suit, and only accuses Intel of violating competition and monopoly rules under Section 5 of the FTC Act, which is "broader" than antitrust laws. Also, unlike an antitrust violation, breaching Section 5 cannot be used to establish liability for plaintiffs to seek triple damages from Intel in private litigation.