EC Sides With AMD in Brand-Name Issue

The European Commission is taking AMD’s side in its push to greatly reduce,
if not eliminate, brand-name procurement policies by government agencies.

The EC sent a “letter of formal notice” to the government of Spain regarding
its use of technical specifications in the procurement of computers it says
refer to Intel-trademarked or equivalent microprocessors, or ones that require
microprocessors with a minimum clock-rate.

AMD has argued the brand-name specification puts an undue burden on
competitors to win government contracts, and the EC has agreed.

In the last year, the EC has sent similar notices to Germany, Italy, France, Poland,
Finland, The Netherlands and Sweden. According to AMD, the
governments of Germany, Italy, the U.K., France and Poland have since enacted
regulations that require performance-based procurement specs instead of
brand names.

“I think the important thing to focus on is that the EC has a strong policy
in place, that at the end of the day, it provides fair and open competition
to the best products and value,” Steve Kester, a government relations
official at AMD, told internetnews.com.

Kester said instead of brand
names, the government agencies are referring to industry-standard benchmarks,
such as SYSmark, in their processor and
computer procurement specs.

“Under the EU public procurement rules,
contracting authorities may refer to a brand name to describe a product only
when there are no other possible descriptions that are both sufficiently
precise and intelligible to potential tenderers,” the EU said in its letter.

“In this case, however, the
microprocessors may be described in a precise and intelligible manner using
references, such as the type of the microprocessor, and its required
performance technical specifications that specify the Intel brand may be
discriminatory and inconsistent” with earlier EU
directives.

The EC also advised that use of a minimum clock-rate spec is also
discriminatory in relation to certain brands of microprocessors whose
performance it said can only be appraised fairly by adding the IPC
(Instructions executed Per Clock) to the clock rate.

While AMD has lobbied successfully in its own interest for brand neutral
policies to the EC and the U.S. government, the company said such policies
are a potential benefit to all businesses who sell to government.

“It’s the
kind of thing that could help office supply companies, whether its Xerox
versus Lexmark or numerous other vendors,” said Kester. “It’s a no-brainer,
and I think that’s why we’re seeing governments respond so quickly to
comply.”

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