Updated from 5:08 p.m. EDT
European regulators are moving forward with an antitrust investigation against chip giant
Investigators for the European Commission believe that they now have enough evidence to bring formal charges against Intel, according to a report in
The Wall Street Journal
The investigators have prepared a written draft of charges, which they will have to defend from a panel of legal experts before moving on with the case, in keeping with the EC's procedures that govern antitrust cases.
Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said the company has been cooperating and continues to cooperate with regulators in Europe as they continue to conduct their investigation. He added that Intel believes that its business practices are both fair and lawful.
Mulloy would not comment on specific developments within the investigation, citing the confidential nature of the process.
The news comes a few days after
Intel chalked up a couple of legal victories in a related U.S. case.
Advanced Micro Devices
sued Intel in 2005, alleging that Intel had maintained its dominant position in the market for PC microprocessors through a pattern of anticompetitive conduct that included forcing PC makers into exclusive deals with Intel and threatening to retaliate against vendors who used AMD chips.
In an opinion released last week, a federal judge dismissed claims in AMD's complaint relating to foreign conduct, saying that they were not within the court's jurisdiction.
In a separate ruling, the judge set a trial date of April 2009, instead of the September 2008 date AMD had requested.
The EC, the European Union's regulatory arm, opened an inquiry into Intel's business practices in 2001.
In September, the EC said it was taking over an investigation by German regulators involving AMD's allegations that a European consumer-electronics retailer had a policy of selling only PCs with Intel processors inside.
According to Tuesday's report in the
, European antitrust commissioner Nellie Kroes is likely to make a final decision by the end of the year on whether to issue formal charges against Intel.
If the EC proceeds with charges, Intel would have two months to respond to the agency's "statement of objections." Intel would also have the right to argue its case to regulators in Brussels in a closed-door hearing.
If the EC decides that Intel violated European Union antitrust laws, the agency could fine the chipmaker and order it to alter its business practices, according to the paper.
Shares of Intel were off a penny at $20.56 in extended trading; AMD's shares were up 2 cents to $24.15.