The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against Intel charging it with maintaining a monopoly in computer Central Processing Units (CPUs) and trying to obtain a monopoly in Graphics Processing Units (GPUs).
A couple of points are immediately interesting.
One is that Intel is charged with bullying some of the world's most sophisticated tech companies into acting against their own long-term interest, a proposition that seems unlikely.
Second - the Commission relies primarily on Section 5 of the FTC Act, which gives it power over vague "unfair" acts or practices and "unfair" methods of competition, divorced from the doctrinal limits of the Sherman and Clayton Acts. Antitrust law as a whole is a mess; "unfairness" is a mess on stilts.
In the 1970s, the Commission was burned when it tried to push too aggressively the authority over unfairness given it by the S&H case in 1972. The agency pulled back to more sensible limits after 1980, but now -- Disco is not dead! Tom Rosch, who is now a Commissioner, was head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection during the 1970s, and was perhaps the most prominent proponent of the attaque à outrance, so he may be motivated by the spirit of revanchism.
Several decades ago, when I was an Assistant Director in the FTC, and during the sobering up process, I was part of a group that considered how to put some meaning and limits into the agency's unfairness powers. I do not recall that we got very far, though there were some papers and reports, copies of which reside in boxes in my basement. Reading the FTC documents on the Intel matter is true deja vu.
Here is the standard by which Intel will be judged, per the Supreme Court:
Thus, legislative and judicial authorities alike convince us that the Federal Trade Commission does not arrogate excessive power to itself if, in measuring a practice against the elusive, but congressionally mandated standard of fairness, it, like a court of equity, considers public values beyond simply those enshrined in the letter or encompassed in the spirit of the antitrust laws.