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FTC, Intel declare witnesses

Some 50 witnesses--including Intel's Andy Grove and Craig Barrett, former Digital CEO Robert Palmer, AltaVista CEO Rod Schrock, and other titans--will appear in the action brought by the FTC against Intel.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
3 min read
About 50 witnesses will appear in the action brought by the Federal Trade Commission against Intel, including Intel's Andy Grove and Craig Barrett, former Digital CEO Robert Palmer, AltaVista CEO Rod Schrock, high-level executives from AMD and other Intel competitors, and a host of experts.

The proceeding, which begins on March 9, is now expected to last approximately two to three months, according to sources, beyond the six- to eight-week estimate floated earlier.

Although the witnesses list will be lengthy, the trial will not likely contain evidentiary bombshells, predicted Peter Detkin, general counsel for Intel.

"You won't find the evidence that you have in the Microsoft trial," he said.

The trial's central issue is whether Intel is a monopolist that coerces intellectual property out of its competitors and customers, or just a blunt negotiator.

The FTC alleges that Intel used a dominant, monopolistic position in microprocessors to force three companies--Intergraph, Digital, and Compaq--to license intellectual property against their will. When these companies asserted intellectual property rights against Intel, Intel cut off these companies from product information and other materials each needed to compete in the server and/or desktop market. The information pipeline only came back on after the companies signed licensing agreements, the government contends.

These acts essentially deprived the three companies of their legal rights, according to William Baer, the FTC's chief investigator, and dimmed independent innovation in the chip market.

Intel's response is, "What monopoly?" The company has been losing market share to AMD and others all year, according Detkin.

Furthermore, Intel claims that its dealings with the three companies had little, if any, effect on the overall microprocessor market. To prove its point, Intel will present statements, or live testimony, from competitors National Semiconductor, Sun, and Integrated Device Technology.

Additionally, the company maintains that acted within its rights when it cut off the three companies from its information pipeline. "Did we withhold our intellectual property from Intergraph? Yes," he said.

Even if no scandalous emails or other evidence emerges in the trial, the witness lists indicates that the there should be no shortage of interesting things said about the inner workings of the semiconductor industry. Some of the more prominent witnesses appearing for the FTC:

  • Gordon Campbell, former chief executive officer of Exponential. Exponential owned patents that many believe gave it a strong claim for patent infringement against Intel. The company eventually went bankrupt and sold the patents to S3, which then licensed the patents to Intel. However, Exponential has said in a lawsuit that its decline came because Apple canceled a contract.

  • Robert Palmer, former CEO of Digital. Digital sued Intel for patent infringement in early 1997. The suit was eventually settled, however, and Digital was sold to Compaq. Howard Elias, former vice president of Digital, will also appear.

  • Vinod Dham, CEO of Silicon Spice. Dham formerly worked at both Intel and AMD. Atiq Raza, president of AMD, Rob Herb, chief marketing officer at AMD, will also appear.

  • Rod Schrock, current CEO of AltaVista and a former vice president in Compaq's consumer division, and Robert Frame, director of engineering for Compaq's portable development center.

  • Albert Yu, senior vice president for Intel's microprocessor division. The FTC will call Yu as an adverse witness.

    Intel's witness list reads like a company roster. Among the names:

  • Craig Barrett, Intel CEO, will testify on company policy. Chairman Andy Grove will appear as a fact witness.

  • Paul Otellini and Pat Gelsinger, two general managers. Otellini will speak on Compaq issues while Gelsinger will be a witness on the Intergraph matter.

  • Karen Alter, who runs Intel's pricing program.