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Judge Tells AMD And Intel To Determine Importance Of Missing E-Mail To Antitrust Case

Rivals must work with mediator to figure out if relevant messages were lost and their importance as evidence.
A federal judge last week ordered Intel to determine how extensive and serious the loss of potential E-mail evidence is in the antitrust suit Advanced Micro Devices filed against Intel nearly two years ago. In the suit, AMD accuses the rival chipmaker of using improper tactics to maintain a monopoly with PC makers. Judge Joseph Farnan Jr. of the U.S. District Court in Delaware also ordered both companies to suggest ways to solve any legal issues resulting from the missing messages.

In court filings last week, Intel said that for three and a half months after AMD filed its suit, a small number of Intel employees whose E-mails were considered potential evidence failed to move all messages to their hard drives, and those messages were automatically purged from Intel's system. Also, a few employees believed erroneously that Intel's IT group was automatically saving their E-mails.

Judge Joseph Farnan Jr. has rivals working together--sort of

Judge Joseph Farnan Jr. has rivals working together--sort of
The disclosure brought an angry response from AMD, which questioned the effectiveness of the procedures Intel put in place to protect potential evidence after the suit was filed. Intel is responsible for the "destruction of potentially massive amounts of evidence, reaching to the highest executive levels of the company," Thomas McCoy, AMD's chief administrative officer and executive VP of legal affairs, said in a statement.

Farnan gave Intel 30 days to figure out whether any relevant E-mails had been lost and to assess their importance as evidence, says an Intel spokesman. After AMD responds, a court-appointed mediator will report to Farnan, who will make a ruling.

Intel insists that there's no indication that any of the lost E-mails were pertinent to the case or contained damaging evidence. Intel must convince the judge it took proper steps to save evidence or it risks millions of dollars in fines. Or worse--the judge could decide during the trial to instruct jurors that they should assume that the E-mails lost would have been detrimental to Intel's defense. Such a move could give AMD an advantage.

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