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Media Group Calls for Disclosure in AMD Vs. Intel

Citing the public's right to know, a prominent media coalition of some 25 news entities and open government groups is urging the judge in the AMD versus Intel lawsuit to make public evidence uncovered in the discovery phase of the case.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) sent its request in a letter yesterday to Judge Joseph Farnum, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, who is presiding over the case.

In its antitrust lawsuit, AMD accuses Intel , the world's biggest chipmaker, of abusive monopoly practices that it claims has restricted AMD's ability to sell more of its processors. Among the charges are that Intel withholds or threatens to withhold discounts to vendors who don't purchase mostly Intel chips.

AMD has requested documents from many leading computer makers and resellers of Intel-based products including Dell, IBM and others.

"We know that in high-profile cases involving major corporations, the parties' instincts are to hide as much discovery information as possible from the public," said RCFP executive director Lucy A. Dalglish in a statement. "We want to make sure that journalists have access to enough information to thoroughly report to the public what is happening in this important case."

Intel spokesman Chuck Molloy said the RCFP's action caught him by surprise because there hasn't even been any discovery yet in the case, just a request for documents.

"The organization's letter ignores the need to protect confidential information," Molloy told internetnews.com. "We respect the press and their interest in covering the litigation, but this letter seems to reiterate AMD's unsubstantiated claims which it shared with AMD and not Intel."

Intel has consistently disputed AMD's charges. In its most detailed response, filed with the court in September, Intel said any limitations on AMD's growth are the result of its own missteps in manufacturing, distribution or execution in general.

"What's at stake is the future of computing in a world economy that grows more dependent on microprocessors daily," said AMD spokesman Michael Silverman in an e-mail statement sent to internetnews.com.

"We believe that evidence collected during the discovery process will show what people inside our industry already know well, that Intel abuses its monopoly position to threaten and intimidate customers not to do business with competitors," Silverman's statement continued.

Silverman added that AMD was not suggesting the court throw open all details of the discovery findings, but he hoped the court would issue a protective order that all parties agree to that protects confidential information while serving the needs of the public interest.

But RCFP's letter asked the court to reject any protective order that seeks to seal documents based "merely on 'grounds of embarrassment' or that is unacceptably founded on unsubstantiated claims to trade secrets or competitive harm through disclosure."

If the charges against Intel are proven to be true, RCFP said it has the potential to injure the public by forcing higher prices on consumers, "crippling progress by prohibiting innovations from entering the market."

Shareholder's rights also were noted as a reason for making the findings from discovery public. A combined 100,000 employees from both companies may feel the effects of the litigation, noted RCFP in its letter, and the pension funds of teachers and tens of thousands of state employees who own shares in either company may be affected.

Among other media outlets, RCFP's steering committee includes representatives from the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and CBS News.