Intel and AMD take dispute to US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices about whether Intel should be forced to send...

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices about whether Intel should be forced to send documents from its legal disputes with Intergraph to the European Commission in support of a complaint filed by AMD.

AMD alleged that certain documents related to Intergraph's patent lawsuit against Intel prove AMD's claims that Intel engaged in anticompetitive behaviour in Europe.

The European Commission dismissed an AMD complaint of antitrust abuses on Intel's part in 2002, but AMD believed the Intergraph documents helped prove its case, and it has asked the court to uphold a US appeals court ruling requiring Intel to hand over the documents.

Intel believed that if parties which filed complaints are afforded the same discovery rights as litigants, anyone could complain about any company's business practices and be entitled to confidential documents.

AMD originally asked a US District Court to unseal the documents, but it refused the request. The US Court of Appeals overruled the district court, and Intel then appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

The dispute comes down to the interpretation of an existing law compelling US corporations to provide discovery in legal proceedings initiated outside the US. Intel believed it should not have to provide the documents because no actual legal proceeding was under way, as AMD only filed a complaint against Intel's business practices and not a lawsuit.

The commission has filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of Intel's position, stating that it had only conducted a preliminary investigation of the complaint before dismissing it.

AMD, however, will argue that the existing law does not specify whether a formal investigation must be under way. Therefore, if evidence of anticompetitive behaviour exists, Intel must provide the documents as part of a investigation into the complaint.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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