South Korean regulators questioned Intel Corp employees earlier this week during surprise visits to its Seoul offices, as part of ongoing investigation into the chipmaker’s local sales and marketing practices, Intel said yesterday.
Rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc issued a press release calling the authorities’ surprise visits dawn raids that show an urgency in the investigation because they have good reason to believe evidence of illegal monopoly abuse is there to be found.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission’s inquiry into Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, began in June.
We have cooperated with the FTC for the past several months, we did earlier this week and we continue to have discussions and meetings with them in the spirit of cooperation, said Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy.
Mulloy said the recent visits by Korean Fair Trade Commission authorities were conducted during normal business hours. AMD spokesperson Dave Kroll said AMD used the term dawn raids in its press release (no fewer than seven times) figuratively.
Dawn raids is a military term used as surprise attack, Kroll said. Despite what you are hearing from Intel, the fact is that they were in fact full raids that caught the recipients by surprise.
Korea FTC officials took documents and hard drives as part of their evidence collection effort, Kroll said.
Authorities also surprised four Intel OEMs earlier this week as part of its investigation. The Korean FTC did not name those OEMs, but LG and Samsung are among the country’s largest.
Santa Clara, California-based Intel, which is facing an antitrust lawsuit in the US based on a complaint filed in June by Advanced Micro Devices Inc, maintains its business practices are both fair and lawful, Mulloy said.
AMD also has filed a complaint against Intel with the European Union, alleging anti-competitive practices by its chief rival. Kroll noted that European regulators have also raided Intel offices.
Sunnyvale, California-based AMD also has filed suit against Intel in Japan, but did so after Japanese regulators told Intel in March to remove an exclusivity clauses from its contracts, Kroll said.
We participated in the investigation in Japan, but we didn’t start it, he said.
Nor did AMD file a complaint against Intel in Korea, Kroll said. He suggested the findings by Japanese regulators prompted authorities in Korea to begin an investigation.
Of course, AMD has a lot riding on the outcome of all these investigations.
We expect that the evidence it collects of Intel’s Korean business practices will be made available to AMD, as will be the case in Japan, and that ultimately Intel will have to respond to it in the US litigation, said AMD spokesperson Michael Silverman.
AMD’s US suit, which it filed last June, names 38 companies that have allegedly been victims of coercion by Intel. The complaint details how Intel allegedly unlawfully maintained its monopoly in the x86 microprocessor market by bullying customers to deal exclusively with Intel.
In September, Intel filed a response that denied all AMD allegations, including the existence of a separate market for x86 processors. The response contained 27 legal defenses.
The case is currently in its early stages and is not expected to go to court before 2007.