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Dell to Reveal Documents in AMD vs. Intel Suit

If you're Intel and perhaps certain Intel customers, AMD's lawsuit against the chip giant continues to dribble forward like slow water torture.

This week in the U.S. district court of Delaware, Dell agreed to preserve a wide range of documents, pricing information and other communication materials as part of AMD's lawsuit that charges Intel used monopoly power to muscle AMD out of computer markets.

AMD is seeking the documents in order to back its claims that Intel has systematically engaged in anti-competitive behavior to keep AMD at bay. Given the long-standing relationship between Dell and Intel's products in Dell machines, AMD is looking for the smoking gun it needs for the number two chipmaker to prove its case.

Dell is the biggest PC maker not to use AMD processors, which are installed in systems made by HP and IBM, among others. AMD is seeking to prove Dell gets discount pricing and special consideration from Intel specifically for not using AMD processors.

The preservation of documents is a legal term that means Dell agrees to preserve records, both paper and electronic including e-mails on employee hard drives as well as back-up servers dating back to 2000.

Intel executives have denied AMD's charges. In a response to the suit earlier this month, Intel said AMD's relatively small market share is the result of its own incompetence, and lack of investment in manufacturing.

In a court filing with the U.S. District Court in Delaware, Intel further claimed that the discounts and market development incentives it gives customers helps keep PC prices low. If AMD is successful in restricting Intel discounts, prices would rise, the company countered.

AMD officials refute such a scenario and note its own pricing is often below if not competitive with Intel's.

Among a long list of documents AMD said it is seeking from Dell are any "reflecting or discussing any offer of a financial inducement by Intel conditioned upon your company's agreement to use only Intel microprocessors in a particular computer platform, computer model or computer type."

AMD is also seeking an accounting of prices Dell paid to Intel for all microprocessors since January 1, 2000. AMD also expects to collect an accounting of all marketing funds and subsidies Dell received from Intel since 2000.

The Dell agreement promises to be the first of many. AMD won a motion in July to serve document preservation subpoenas against computer makers, retailers, distributors and small system builders as it tries to substantiate its charges against Intel. AMD identified 30 third parties from which it may seek documents.

While companies like Dell, Gateway, HP and others may have mixed feelings about cooperating voluntarily with AMD for fear of reprisal from Intel, the document subpoena power of the ruling gives them legal cover to hand over documents that Intel might otherwise prefer to never see the light of day.

AMD has been attacking Intel's alleged anti-competitive, monopolistic practices on several fronts. On June 27, AMD made its antitrust complaint against Intel in U.S. federal district court. The suit accused the company of unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in the x86 microprocessor market by shunting customers away from AMD.

Shortly thereafter AMD Japan filed two claims against Intel's Japanese subsidiary for violating Japan's anti monopoly act. It filed the suits against Intel K.K. in two separate Tokyo courts seeking $50 million. The suits followed the findings of the Japan Fair Trade Commission's (JFTC) that Intel K.K. breached the country's Anti monopoly Act.

The JFTC recommendation concluded that Intel K.K. interfered with AMD Japan's business by paying Japanese PC manufacturers NEC, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Sony and Hitachi to refuse to purchase AMD processors.

In July, European Commission regulators launched early-morning investigations of several of Intel's European offices Tuesday, as part of an ongoing antitrust investigation of Intel's practices.

Dell did not respond to requests for comment.