Tokyo Ruling Gives AMD a Lift Vs. Intel

UPDATED: Tokyo District Court today said it is ordering the disclosure of evidence collected by the Fair Trade Commission of Japan (JFTC) during its antitrust investigation of Intel K.K., a move that could help AMD in its current antitrust cases against the top chipmaker.

The evidence, discovered during raids of the offices of Intel K.K., and other Japanese companies in April 2004, was the basis of the JFTC’s decision against Intel.

Lawyers for AMD Japan said they will use the JFTC’s evidence as part of its own antitrust lawsuit against Intel in Japan, filed this past summer two days after AMD filed a suit in U.S. federal court.

In both suits, AMD is alleging Intel is hurting its business in the x86 microprocessor market by steering customers away from AMD.

“Today’s court ruling sends the message that the truth about Intel’s illegal monopoly abuse will soon see the light of day,” said Thomas M. McCoy, AMD executive vice president, legal affairs and chief administrative officer, in a statement.

“We believe the JFTC’s evidence will show what people inside our industry already know well – that Intel abuses its monopoly position to threaten and intimidate OEMs not to do business with AMD.”

Intel downplayed the finding Friday.

Company spokesman Chuck Mulloy said the ruling is merely procedural and does not specify which documents the JFTC needs to turn over, nor does it specifically say the documents will or should become public.

“Once again, AMD has mischaracterized and exaggerated the impact of procedural ruling, which does not address in any way the merits of AMD’s claims,” Mulloy said. “Our only interest with respect to the documents is to ensure that InteI and Intel’s customers’ confidential information and trade secrets are protected. In the U.S. litigation alone, we expect to exchange millions of pages of documents. AMD’s claim of hiding material is absurd.”

The move was the latest development in what is sure to be a protracted legal battle between top computer chipmaker Intel and rival AMD, with millions of dollars hanging in the balance.

AMD is requesting $50 million from Intel in its Japan suit, which could be the lynchpin for AMD’s case in the U.S., where AMD is looking to prove the same allegations in a federal court in Delaware.

The JFTC finding was the cap on an 11-month investigation that said it established patterns of anti-consumer and anti-competitive behavior.

The commission found that, because of AMD’s inroads into Intel’s market share, Intel purposely attempted to take business from AMD by imposing conditions on NEC Corp., Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Sony Corp., and Fujitsu, Ltd.

The JFTC decided Intel must no longer provide rebates and other funds to Japanese computer manufacturers on conditions that exclude competitors CPUs.

The investigations into Intel’s business practices by the European Commission and the Fair Trade Commission of Korea for violations similar to those found in Japan by the JFTC remain ongoing.

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