Intel defeats AMD in court

EC anti-trust probe may not see Intel documents

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AMD's attempt to persuade the US court to sanction the release of over 60,000 pages of Intel documentation to a European Commission anti-trust enquiry has failed.

The documents in question were brought to court during Intel's legal battle with Intergraph. AMD believes they show its arch-rival to be guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, which is why it wanted the EC to take a look. The Commission is currently investigating AMD's allegations that Intel used is marketing muscle to discourage European PC makers from sourcing processors from AMD.

Intel understandably refused to hand them over, and AMD has been pursuing its rival through the US court to force disclosure.

The irony is that the EC has always said it doesn't want to see the Intel documents. Indeed, that very fact weighed heavily in US District of San Jose Judge James Ware's decision, made on 4 October, to deny AMD's request.

"The EC's determination that the requested documents are unwanted and unlikely to be reviewed, weighs against granting any portion of AMD's application," Ware wrote. He also cited the "breadth" of AMD's application - essentially demanding the release of documents not directly relevant to the EC's investigation - as another factor in his decision.

Bizarrely, AMD originally won the right to pass on the documents, thanks to a 2003 San Jose District Court judgment, the result of a case launched in October 2001. However, Intel appealed, claiming it was not within the court's remit to make such a decision. While US law permits documents presented to one court to be made available to other courts, even overseas ones, Intel argued that the EC's investigation had no legal powers and so was not equivalent to a court hearing.

"They're seeking to get access to documents that are under court-ordered seal in discovery for litigation that doesn't exist," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said at the time.

Intel's appeal went to the Supreme Court in April this year. In June, addressing the point of law raised by Intel, it said the lower court could authorise the release of such documents to the likes of the EC.

AMD appears to have used that ruling to return to the District Court with a much longer list of documents it wants the EC to see. Reuters claims the new request extends to "hundreds of thousands of pages" - clearly more than originally listed.

Following complaints made by AMD in October 2000, the EC launched an enquiry into Intel's behaviour but later suspended the investigation for lack of evidence. It re-opened the case in June 2004 on the back of "new evidence" provided by AMD. ®

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