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
, 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
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.