Intel and AMD are in front of the US Supreme Court today to argue over 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 alleges that certain documents related to Intergraph's patent lawsuit against Intel prove AMD's claims that Intel engaged in anti-competitive behavior in Europe. The Commission dismissed an AMD complaint of anti-trust abuses on Intel's part in 2002, but AMD believes the Intergraph documents help prove its case, and it is asking the Supreme Court to uphold a US appeals court ruling requiring Intel to hand over the documents.
Intel believes that if parties that file complaints are afforded the same discovery rights as litigants, anyone could complain about any company's business practices and be entitled to confidential documents. It settled the case Intergraph case last month when it paid the company $225 million to use its patents on parallel-computing technology.
AMD originally asked the US District Court for the County of Santa Clara to unseal the documents, but it refused the request. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 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 believes 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, Intel said in its brief to the Supreme Court.
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 doesn't specify whether a formal investigation must be under way. Therefore, if evidence of anti-competitive behavior exists, Intel must provide the documents as part of a investigation into the complaint, according to a copy of AMD's brief filed with the Supreme Court.