Intel, AMD antitrust trial pushed back
The trial for the long-running antitrust battle between microprocessor rivals Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices Inc has been pushed back nearly a year to February 2010 from April 2009.
Special Master Vincent Poppiti, who is overseeing the case that AMD brought against Intel, on Thursday pushed back the trial date as the companies face dissecting a mountain of possible evidence in documents submitted, as well as conducting interviews of witnesses.
The companies expect the suit, filed by AMD in 2005 in U.S. District Court in Delaware, to generate the most documents of any civil case in U.S. history, the Wall Street Journal reported.
After AMD filed its private antitrust suit that was joined later by lawyers representing some Intel shareholders, the chip giant disclosed a series of lapses in preserving emails since the case was filed, but has subsequently produced millions of emails and expressed confidence it can recover most of the missing messages.
On May 30, Poppiti was notified by Intel that it had discovered additional personal-email files of some employees and that outside firms assisting in recovering its emails are working as expeditiously as possible and any relevant emails should be provided to the plaintiffs soon. AMD wrote to the court that the disclosures are another serious lapse by Intel and complained that gaps in documents make it difficult to prepare to take depositions of potential witnesses in the case, news reports also said.
Once all email has been gathered, Intel and AMD are expected to ask the court to sanction Intel for its handling of the evidence.
The companies have also been arguing about the number of depositions that should be taken. Intel has argued that each side should be able to take depositions from 75 people, while AMD has asked for more than 400. Poppiti ruled that a total of 250 depositions should be taken, with AMD allocated 54% and Intel 46%, reports said.
Last month, the companies filed preliminary pretrial briefs, as ordered by Poppiti, as well as concluded their exchange of documents in this case, with Intel delivering 150 million pages of documents to AMD, according to Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.
AMD has made a number of claims against Intel including paying off vendors to keep AMD out of specific sectors of the market critical to AMD’s success, paying off customers to abandon development of particular AMD computer models and employing a discount scheme designed to make it uneconomic for AMD to compete for a customer’s available business through quantity-forcing, all-or-nothing discounts. Other AMD claims against Intel include predatory bid-pricing and threats of retaliation against OEMs.
In its preliminary pretrial statement, Intel said, “AMD brought its monopolization lawsuit in an intensely competitive industry, in which competition has unquestionably brought enormous benefits to consumers. Competition in the microprocessor industry has given consumers the benefits of lower prices and higher quality and performance – the exact opposite of a market plagued by a stagnant monopoly,” and that according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, microprocessor prices have fallen more rapidly than prices in each of the 1,200 product categories tracked by the Bureau. “Nothing about the microprocessor industry suggests that it is hobbled by a monopolist that is reaping monopoly profits and stalling the development of new and better products,” Intel said.
Also, “AMD filed this lawsuit in the midst of a run of more than three years during which it enjoyed unprecedented success in increasing its market share, its range of products, and its profits. More recently, its fortunes have sagged as the result of poor business execution with new key products, like its Barcelona microprocessor for servers. AMD’s lawsuit is part of a larger strategy to secure greater success by deterring Intel from aggressive competition,” the chip leader said in its brief.
And, Intel said, “AMD’s position runs headlong into a series of Supreme Court decisions spanning more than twenty years that treat above-cost price competition as ‘per se’ lawful – the antitrust equivalent of free speech under First Amendment jurisprudence.”
Intel reminded that it has compiled “an impressive record of continuing product innovation and a willingness to make risky multi-billion dollar investments, even in periods of business downturns, to develop more advanced manufacturing technology and build the manufacturing capacity to supply its customers’ complete needs. AMD, in contrast, has often floundered, introducing products that often failed to live up to expectations, even after embarrassing delays.”
This trial delay follows a decision by the Korea Fair Trade Commission in Seoul Thursday that Intel abused its dominant position in the local market and ordered a $25.4 million fine to which Intel said it may appeal.
Today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission launched an official probe into Intel’s business practices Intel under FTC investigation following an informal investigation into Intel that started in 2006 regarding competition in the microprocessor market.