Intel, AMD and judge to organize antitrust case

Chipmakers to discuss what type of discovery they plan to conduct, how long the case might take and other issues.

Intel and Advanced Micro Devices will meet in court next month in a case management conference, an event that will help the court and the parties put together a time line for the antitrust case.

The case management conference in AMD's antitrust lawsuit against Intel will take place on April 20 in the United States District Court for the State of Delaware. Judge Joseph Farnan, who is overseeing the trial and most of the class-action suits that arose from it, will preside.

A case management conference isn't a high-tension courtroom event. Instead, the parties exchange information about what type of discovery they plan to conduct, how long the case might take and other issues that could affect the case. Intel and AMD will submit their ideas for the conference's agenda on April 7.

For Judge Farnan, it will also be like the first day of the rest of his life--a long, paperwork-laden life. Both parties will likely produce warehouses full of documents during discovery and file a large number of motions.

AMD alleges that Intel violated antitrust law through marketing programs and pricing policies that effectively excluded AMD from large swaths of the PC market. PC makers were dissuaded from buying more AMD chips, claims AMD, because of financial incentives, rebates and veiled threats from Intel.

Intel denies the allegations and contends that AMD has not achieved a larger market share because of its own strategic miscalculations. Intel further stated in its answer that AMD has mischaracterized Intel's pricing and marketing policies.

Former and current PC executives contacted so far by CNET have said that, in general, they often played one company off another for their own advantage.

The AMD suit has also drawn a large number of shareholder suits. Most have been consolidated into a single case overseen by Judge Farnan. Meanwhile, the EU and the Korean government are investigating Intel's conduct. Japan's Fair Trade Commission asserted in 2005 that Intel violated Japan's antitrust laws. Intel denied the charges but agreed to change the rebate policies at issue in the Japanese complaint. No fine was issued.

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