Japanese regulators nearing end of Intel investigation

The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) expects to conclude its investigation of Intel Corp.’s Japanese subsidiary within the next few months, the commission said Tuesday.

The commission launched an investigation last April into whether Intel was putting unfair pressure on PC makers to use Intel chips instead of chips from rivals such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc. As part of the investigation it raided Intel Corp. K.K., based in Tsukuba, north of Tokyo, the same month.

The investigation should wind up in the following few months, at which time the JFTC will decide what further steps, if any, it will take against the chip maker, said Noriko Mitsui, deputy press officer for the commission’s general affairs division, on Tuesday.

“We have not come to any conclusions about the results of the investigation but we feel that we will be able to make an announcement in the near future,” Mitsui said.

Intel has been co-operating with the investigation since last April and has no further comment, said Masatoshi Mizuno, a company spokesman.

The JFTC is responsible for enforcing Japan’s Antimonopoly Act, a set of laws designed to remove obstacles to free and fair competition in the Japanese market.

The Intel probe is one of two actions the JFTC is conducting into major U.S. technology companies. Last February it raided the Japanese offices of Microsoft Corp. as part of an investigation into provisions in Microsoft licenses with Japanese PC manufacturers. Last week lawyers for Microsoft and JFTC investigators met for the third time to clarify the commission’s position in the ongoing dispute.