October 24, 2001 1:15 PM PDT

AMD seeks Intel antitrust documents

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices has filed a legal action to obtain confidential documents about Intel's business practices in an effort to prod a European Commission investigation into the chip giant.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD has filed a motion with the U.S. District Court of Northern California to compel Intel to produce expert testimony and documents that allegedly shed light on how Intel handles PC makers that don't cooperate with the company.

The documents and testimony were first propounded in an antitrust suit brought by Intergraph, which alleged, but did not prove in court, that Intel damaged it through selective withholding of technical documents. The evidence is sealed under a protective order. A hearing is set for Nov. 12.

An AMD spokesman said the evidence will likely show that "Intel has selectively withheld information about computing interfaces for Windows computers."

Last October, AMD and Via Technologies brought an action before the European Commission concerning Intel's business practices. The companies alleged that Intel holds a monopoly in the microprocessor business and that it has engaged in "abusive" marketing practices. If found liable, Intel could face a fine equal to 10 percent of its sales.

Intergraph filed its antitrust action against Intel in 1997. The Huntsville, Ala.-based company alleged Intel was angered by patent claims made by Intergraph and retaliated by withholding advance information about upcoming workstation technology.

The selective nondisclosure hurt Intergraph, the company claimed in its action, by preventing Intergraph from coming out with workstations at the same time as rivals such as IBM. Intergraph has since exited the workstation industry to concentrate on software and services.

A federal court dismissed Intergraph's antitrust claims in 2000, and an appeals court upheld the ruling. Intergraph, however, continues to pursue patent infringement claims against Intel.

The AMD spokesman did not identify the name of the expert witness or the exact nature of the documents. The documents, he added, also won't be freely aired--AMD will only forward them to the EC. He also said the EC did not request that AMD take this action.

An Intel spokesman said the company would fight the order. "The information protected is highly confidential; it involves trade secrets, and they do not relate to the EC inquiry," he said.

AMD is also not an appropriate party to request the documents, the Intel spokesman added. Although AMD brought the complaint, only the EC can conduct discovery under its bylaws, he said.

 

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