Intel Charged in South Korea With Violating Antitrust Laws
Intel Corp., the world's largest semiconductor company, has been charged with
violating South Korean antitrust laws, the company and regulators said Tuesday.
It's the latest legal setback for Intel, which is being scrutinized by antitrust
regulators in several countries over allegations it abused its market dominance
to pressure computer makers and undermine rivals, particularly
Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
The Korean Fair Trade Commission said it has completed
a two-year probe into Intel's activities in the country, but officials declined
to elaborate on the findings. The regulators are now deliberating about possible
penalties against Intel, which commands more than three-quarters of the worldwide
market for microprocessors, the electronic brains of computers.
Chuck Mulloy, a spokesman for Intel in Santa Clara, Calif., confirmed that
the company received a "statement of objection" last week from the
commission, which is a preliminary set of charges.
Mulloy said he could not discuss allegations against the company or divulge
the contents of the statement because the document is confidential.
Intel has the right to respond to the findings, request a hearing and, if it
remains unsatisfied, take the issue to court in South Korea, he said.
"We're hopeful that we'll be able to show the commission that the microprocessor
market is functioning normally and that this is an extremely competitive market
and that our conduct has been pro-competition and beneficial to consumers,"
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing sources it did not identify, reported
Tuesday that the regulator was expected to reach a decision on a penalty by
Neither commission official Nah Young-kyu nor Intel's Mulloy would comment
on the timing or potential penalties.
Intel has faced numerous legal battles over how it maintains its market position.
The company has repeatedly denied breaking any laws.
In July, the European Union charged Intel with monopoly abuse, saying Intel
unfairly harmed AMD's business by doling out big rebates to computer makers
who agreed to buy most of their microprocessors from Intel, and by selling its
own chips below cost to strategic customers.
Many of the European claims also appear in a landmark antitrust lawsuit that
AMD filed against Intel in 2005 and is now in the document-swapping legal process
known as discovery. The lawsuit, which claims Intel illegally forced key customers
into exclusive deals to stunt AMD's growth, is scheduled to go to trial in 2009
in Delaware federal court.
Intel shares rose 31 cents, 1.2 percent, to close at $25.66 Tuesday.