Intel Corp. and the Federal Trade Commission are in talks to settle an antitrust case against the chip maker, a move that might increase competition in the chip market but also could make it more difficult for rivals to pursue damages, reports the Associated Press. In December, the FTC filed charges against Intel, seeking to end what it described as decades of illegal sales tactics that have hampered competitors and kept prices for computer chips artificially high. This week, the FTC and Intel agreed to suspend administrative trial proceedings as they work on hashing out a settlement. The FTC accused Intel of strong-arming computer makers into exclusive deals, manipulating technical data to make its chips look more powerful than those from competitors, and blocking rivals from making its chips work with Intel’s. Intel has disputed the charges. A settlement would be at least a partial victory for Intel, said Robert Lande, director of the American Antitrust Institute at the University of Baltimore. If Intel loses in court, rival chip makers such as Nvidia Corp. would be able to pursue damages. By contrast, settlements often come without any admission of wrongdoing. A key question remains whether the settlement will affect computer prices. Intel says its sales strategies help keep chip prices low; the FTC argues that prices haven’t fallen as much as they could have.

The case is particularly important, because the FTC has said it wants to change Intel’s behavior, instead of merely issuing fines…

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