US Report: Intel to reply to FTC Friday

Intel's battle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take a few steps further starting Friday, when the two meet in a Washington courtroom to begin the discovery process and to set a date for trial proceedings.

Intel will also file a formal reply to the FTC's antitrust complaint, which was announced on June 8.

The FTC has charged Intel with anti-competitive practices stemming from earlier patent infringement lawsuits with Compaq and Digital and an ongoing dispute with Intergraph.

"The public hearing [to take place tomorrow] is all procedural,'' said Willard Tom, deputy directory of the antitrust division of the FTC. "It's unlikely evidence would come into play, only possible discovery on what each side needs to get.''

Tom said the reply phase of the process is standard for such proceedings.

"The reply frames the issues," he said. "[Intel] files an answer to the complaint [where] they may admit this or deny that. It gives [both sides] a basis for the issues that are in dispute.''

The basic facts of the case -- that Intel withheld some of its intellectual property and chip supplies from three OEMs -- are not in dispute. Intel maintains it is within its legal rights to do so when it is legally threatened. The FTC disagrees, saying Intel cannot use its intellectual property as a weapon against customers.