Japanese trade authorities raid Intel office

Officials from Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) raided Intel Corp.’s offices in Tsukuba, Japan, on April 8, according to a company official.

“We can confirm there was a visit but we cannot confirm any further details,” said Georgine Lin, an Intel spokeswoman in Taipei.

The FTC is a state body whose remit includes enforcing the Antimonopoly Act, a law designed to remove obstacles to free and fair competition in the Japanese market. The FTC is investigating whether Intel engages in the practice of putting unfair pressure on PC manufacturers to use only its chips, which is illegal under Japanese law.

A spokesman for the FTC confirmed the early morning raid of Intel’s office as part of its investigation into Intel. The FTC also visited the offices of Intel’s main rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), as well as those of Sony Corp., Fujitsu Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. as part of that investigation, he said. The FTC spokesman said he was unable to give any further information on the Intel case.

“AMD is fully co-operating with the FTC investigation,” said AMD Germany spokesman Jens Drews on Thursday.

Around 300 people are employed at Intel’s Tsukuba office, which is located 60 kilometres from Tokyo, according to the company’s Web site. The office handles materials operations, quality assurance, information technology and e-business operations, it said.

The headquarters of Intel Japan is located in Tokyo where the staff of over 300 handles sales and marketing, finance, treasury, human resources, corporate services and legal services operations, according to the Web site. An Intel sales office in Osaka, Japan, employs a staff of 10, it said.

Intel is the second U.S. company to have its Japanese offices raided by the FTC in recent months.

In February, FTC officials raided the Japanese offices of Microsoft Corp. The FTC officials raided the offices as part of an investigation regarding provisions in Microsoft licenses with PC manufacturers, said Aki Araki, a Microsoft Japan spokeswoman, speaking at the time.

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