The Work

May 13, 2009 5:34 PM

Gibson Dunn, O'Melveny, Skadden on AMD / Intel Antitrust Dispute

Posted by Rachel Breitman

The chips seem to be stacking up against Intel Corporation.

The European Commission hit the Santa Clara, Calif.-based computer-chip maker with a record $1.45 billion fine Wednesday for unfairly limiting competition with rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

The matter dates back to 2001 when AMD, based in Sunnyvale, California, filed an action with the European Union's Competition Directorate (then under the direction of Mario Monti), alleging that Intel was offering rebates to computer makers who agreed to buy fewer rival products and delay product lines that used competitors' chips. Intel was formally charged with that violation last year.

"This is a very serious violation of EU competition law that lasted for more than five years," says Riccardo Celli, an antitrust partner in the Brussels office of O'Melveny & Myers who co-led an AMD team with partner Christian Riis-Madsen. "I think it's an important signal to show the seriousness of the infringement," Celli says. In addition to Celli and Riis-Madsen, the O'Melveny lawyers working on the matter included counsel Giovanni Cifelli and associates Philippe Nogues and Paolo Fucile, all resident in the firm's Brussels office.

The $1.45 billion fine is more than double what was previously the largest fine ever imposed for breach of EU competition law. In that case, the EC fined Microsoft $613 million in 2004 for inhibiting media software and server computer technology competition. Fines are a percent of a company's annual global sales.

Intel was advised by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's Brussels antitrust partner, James Venit  as well as Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Washington antitrust partners Joseph Kattan and John Wood, and Los Angeles litigation partners Robert Cooper and Rod Stone. Kattan deferred comments to a spokesman for Intel, who said the company plans to appeal. 

This is just the latest in Intel's legal woes. As we reported in January, Intel sued an insurer to cover its mounting legal costs--which have been multiplying for some time.

In 2005 the Japan Fair Trade Commission ruled that Intel had violated the country's antimonopoly laws by illegally demanding exclusivity from five Japanese PC makers. In 2008 the Korea Fair Trade Commission issued a $25.4 million fine against the company for paying customers to use only Intel chips, delay launches of AMD products, and not develop any new products with AMD chips.

AMD also filed a civil case against Intel in district court in Delaware in 2005, which is scheduled for trial in spring 2010. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and New York attorney general's office are investigating Intel for monopolistic behavior.

In the Delaware case, Intel is represented by a Gibson Dunn team including Robert Cooper, Michael Denger, Joseph Kattan, Daniel Floyd, Mark Weber, Rod Stone, Kay Kochenderfer, Samuel Liversidge, and John Wood. Kattan and Wood are also advising Intel in the FTC investigation.

In the U.S., AMD is being advised by an O'Melveny team that includes Washington, D.C., partners Henry Thumann and David Beddow; in Century City, partners Charles Diamond, Linda Smith and Bo Pearl; in Los Angeles, partners David Herron, Michael Maddigan, Michael McGuinness, Mark Samuels, and Ryan Yagura. In Beijing, the company is being represented by OMM partner Nate Bush.


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