Judge Denies AMD Access to Intel Documents

A federal judge has denied a request by AMD that Intel turn over internal documents, the latest development in a long-running legal battle.

The case stems from a complaint filed by AMD four years ago, charging that Intel is abusing its position and violating anti-competitive rules (Article 82) in Europe. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD requested that certain information discussed during Intel’s now settled lawsuit against Intergraph be unsealed and handed over to the European Commission for further review.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the case be sent back to the lower court to determine what documents, if any, would be released to the EC and to give further consideration to concerns raised by Intel.

In a brief ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge James Ware noted that AMD’s requests were actually “unwanted and unlikely to be reviewed” by the EC. The judge also noted that the EC itself had the power all along to ask Intel for the documents but has yet to do so. A spokesperson for the EC was not immediately available for comment.

“This is the outcome we have been seeking since AMD filed its complaint in 2001,” Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy told
internetnews.com. “If you look at what the judge said today, he stays within what the Supreme Court decided and even points out that AMD’s argument was a little far-reaching.”

AMD spokesperson Michael Simonoff said the company has 30 days to consider an appeal.

The case had broader implications as Justice Stephen Breyer said it could have set a precedent for a wider range of discovery in cases outside of the United States.

“We’re disappointed with Judge Ware’s decision to take a different path than the U.S. Supreme Court,” Simonoff told internetnews.com. “We are going to continue provide evidence of Intel’s misconduct and we are very hopeful that the EC will continue its investigation.”

In its complaint, AMD accuses Intel of using its “Intel Inside” and other “market development fund” programs as loyalty rebates to secure the agreement of PC makers and retailers to only sell Intel-based PCs. The chipmaker also accuses Intel of withholding its technology as a coercion tactic and of forming private, standard-setting cartels that exclude AMD and its interests.

The EU renewed its investigation in April 2004 following reports that seven countries — Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands — ignored an EC mandated, open-bidding process in favor of exclusively purchasing Intel-based computers.

Intel’s position in the world is huge, with 80 percent of the market for chips that run PCs and 90 percent of the revenue share worldwide. By contrast, AMD has about 16.8 percent of the market share and barely registers in the double digits when in worldwide revenue share. Taiwan-based Via Technologies and Transmeta round out the top four.

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