AMD and Intel fling more legal briefs

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AMD and Intel traded more court filings last week as their ongoing legal dispute in the antitrust case AMD filed in 2005 grinds towards trial next year.

The two chipmakers' briefs filed in US District Court in Delaware last Friday were made public Monday. Their trial is tentatively scheduled for April, 2009.

AMD has alleged that Intel abused its domination of the x86 microprocessor market by various means in order to prevent others from competing fairly.

AMD alleges Intel offered larger discounts to PC manufacturers if they used Intel chips exclusively, punished OEM vendors that considered buying AMD chips, and gave away products to prevent AMD from gaining market share.

Intel claims that the x86 microprocessor market is competitive and that AMD failed to gain market share because it made inferior products for many years.

Each chipmaker claims it builds the superior x86 microprocessor technology.

AMD's court filing is a case summary that runs to over 100 pages outlining its allegations against Intel and summarising approximately 200 million pages of documents produced during discovery in the case so far.

Intel's counterfiling, which also exceeds 100 pages, denies AMD's allegations and accuses AMD of litigating in a vain attempt to make up for its inability to compete effectively.

Both filings are heavily redacted under a protection order granted in the case to shield trade secrets and other proprietary business information. AMD has charged that Intel overuses the court's protection order to prevent the public from learning about its sales practices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, AMD attorney Charles Diamond of O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles said AMD's evidence establishes that "Intel pays people not to deal with AMD."

He said AMD has email exchanges between executives at major PC OEMs and Intel showing that Intel committed illegal acts to stifle competition from AMD. But, "Everything that you would want to read is blacked out," he said. "We cite chapter and verse, and we name names."

The large PC builders named as third party witnesses in the case include Acer, Dell, Gateway, HP, IBM, Lenovo and others.

In its brief, AMD further claimed that it needs to more than double its present share of the x86 microprocessor market in order to survive. AMD said that it had only 13 percent of the x86 CPU market at the end of 2007, "less than half of what it requires to operate long-term as a sustainable business."

AMD is asking for relief going forward from what it claims have been Intel's alleged anticompetitive practices, along with damages for Intel's alleged past anticompetitive behaviour.

For its part, Intel claims AMD is seeking court protection from actions that amount to ordinary discounting and other lawful forms of price competition. Intel's filing said, "AMD's complaint about Intel's discounting boils down to a complaint that Intel is a more efficient competitor."

The court will review the parties' recent briefs to set out the scope of discovery allowed in the case. AMD is pressing for extensive discovery in order to build its case that Intel engaged in a pattern of alleged anticompetitive practices with multiple PC OEM vendors, consistently over a period of many years. Intel, on the other hand, is seeking to limit the scope of fact discovery as much as it can.

Including likely appeals, this long running case might drag on five more years. (c) 2010 Incisive Media

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