Judge gives Intel more time to find missing e-mail

A court has granted Intel seven extra days to explain to a judge why it lost e-mail records in the AMD antitrust case

A court has granted Intel seven extra days to explain to a judge why it lost email records that could provide proof that the chipmaker used anticompetitive practices as alleged by AMD.

Intel has until April 17 to give the court an accounting of its document preservation problems and to propose a better solution for archiving future records, according to an order from the special master hearing negotiations of the case in US District Court for the District of Delaware, Vincent Poppiti.

A judge agreed in December to enforce AMD's request to prepare for an April 2009 trial by seeing Intel records that could determine whether Intel used its overwhelming market share in the semiconductor industry to force PC vendors to use only its processors.

That process hit a snag when Intel said in March it had accidentally deleted many of those records, including email written by its chairman, Craig Barrett, and CEO, Paul Ottelini. The problem happened because the company failed to instruct certain employees to keep records of their own email, other employees assumed the IT department would do that task for them, and meanwhile the company's IT system was automatically deleting most email after a certain amount of time, Intel told a judge.

Intel and AMD had originally agreed to a deadline of April 10 to see a full assessment of the lost data and discuss ways to restore some of it, according to a transcript of a March 7 hearing before Poppiti. But the court took so much time to issue its formal demand that part of the month had already passed, Intel spokesman, Chuck Mulloy, said in an email statement.

"It took more than a week to draft the order from the special master so the deadline is now April 17th," he said. The delay occurred because AMD and Intel were working on the order.

Despite the extension, the basic facts of the case remained the same, with AMD continuing its search for evidence that Intel broke antitrust laws, AMD spokesperson, Michael Silverman, said in an email. That challenge would be much more formidable without access to Intel's records.

"Although Intel has agreed to restore all data captured in the thousands of backup tapes it made and preserved, no one can say with any degree of confidence that this will put Humpty-Dumpty back together again," AMD said in a March 5 court statement.

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Ben Ames

IDG News Service
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