The antitrust consent decree that the Federal Trade Commission forged earlier this month with chip manufacturer Intel Corp. has provided high technology lawyers with some guidelines for their own clients’ intellectual property licensing agreements. But a private antitrust suit, now pending against Intel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, is expected to have an even broader impact on the computer industry.

The ruling in Intergraph v. Intel, No. 98-1308, an appeal of an injunction granted by the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham last April, is expected to establish a standard for when a dominant company has an obligation to share intellectual property with other companies. The district court’s approach to the issue is a novel one, said antitrust attorneys, and if the Court of Appeals follows it, it will be signficant.

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