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New York Launches Intel Antitrust Probe

New York state launched a formal investigation Thursday to determine if Intel, the world's biggest chip maker, violated state and antitrust laws to squeeze out rival Advanced Micro Devices.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said his office had issued a wide-ranging subpoena seeking documents and information after a preliminary probe raised questions about whether Intel coerced customers to exclude AMD, its main rival, from the worldwide market for microprocessors, the main computing engines of PCs.

Intel is facing similar investigations in Europe and Asia.

Federal antitrust enforcers in Washington have so far declined to take up the matter.

"Our investigation is focused on determining whether Intel has improperly used monopoly power to exclude competitors or stifle innovation," Cuomo said in a statement. "We will also look at whether Intel abused its power to remove competitive threats or harm competition in violation of New York and federal antitrust laws."

An Intel spokesman said the Santa Clara, Calif., company, which has long been accused of anti-competitive practices, declined immediate comment. The company has usually either prevailed in the disputes with rivals or regulators, or settled them.

AMD said it had been contacted by Cuomo's office. "I can confirm that we have received a subpoena, too," said spokesman Drew Prairie, who declined to give any details.

On Monday in Brussels, an Intel spokeswoman said the company had responded to antitrust charges filed by the European Commission and would seek a hearing. The commission charged Intel last July with slashing prices below cost and offering huge rebates in an illegal attempt to drive the smaller AMD out of the market.

The EC charges and the response are confidential.

In South Korea, the Fair Trade Commission filed antitrust charges against Intel in September 2007. The case is pending.

In Japan, the Fair Trade Commission ruled in 2005 that Intel violated that country's Antimonopoly Act. Intel disagreed with the findings but accepted the ruling, which allowed it to avoid a trial.

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