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EU releases e-mail showing Intel's antitrust 'guilt'

updated 10:05 am EDT, Mon September 21, 2009

E-mails show Intel's guilt in EU anti-trust case

The European Union on Monday shared some e-mail contents that contributed to its decision to fine chipmaker Intel the equivalent of $1.45 billion in May. The e-mails between the chipmaker and its clients allegedly show that Intel pressured buyers into choosing Intel over competitor AMD, via illegal incentives that would delay or keep them from buying AMD products. Intel is still fighting the EU decision, calling the e-mails speculative and originating from lower-level employees that were not involved in the negotiation of the deals in question.

Among the e-mails, Dell executives were communicating to each other in 2003 that buying more AMD chips would result in an action from Intel that would be "severe and prolonged with impact to all lines of business." This would involve Intel's rebate to Dell disappearing for one quarter at a minimum, it continued.
Dell had sent a complaint to Intel in 2004 that argued selling only Intel-based systems makes the company uncompetitive.

"We have slower, hotter products that cost more across the board in the enterprise with no hope of closing the performance gap for 1-2 years," read an excerpt.

HP received rebates from Intel that resulted in at least 95 percent of business desktops being powered by Intel between 2002 and 2005, the EU said. This was meant to be kept quiet, as shown by an e-mail from an executive.

"Please do not... communicate to the regions, your team members or AMD that we are constrained to 5 percent AMD by pursuing the Intel agreement."

Another HP e-mail from 2004 warned of the consequences of selling its products via a distributor.

"You can NOT use the commercial AMD line in any country... If you do and we get caught (and we will) the Intel moneys (each month) is gone (they would terminate the deal). The risk is too high."

Another e-mail quoted revealed Acer dropped an AMD notebook line entirely after calls with Intel executives.

Media Saturn Holdings, Europe's biggest computer retailer, also apparently stopped AMD-based computer sales from 2002 to 2007 after receiving payments from Intel, the EU said. MSH publicly stated that its understanding was that its selling more AMD systems would result in less rebates or other forms of payment from Intel. [via AP]



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. slider

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +1

    "lower level employees"

    Right. And where did these employees get the idea that they could send such emails.

    Seriously, this is exactly the kind of penalties that need to be leveled against companies that break the law - in this case to the detriment of the consumer. Companies don't operate on a strong set of ethics. Yes, they all preach having ethics and how they are important, and even adhere to them - as long as they don't relate to profits that is. For the most part I don't believe there are a group of evil businessmen working to break the law for personal gain. What happens is that decisions are made along the way, a little white lie here, a slight bending of the rules here, and a self-benefiting interpretation of a rule there. But these result from less than stellar corporate ethics - if the end result was favorable to the company we'll just look the other way. The only way to reverse the behavior of business' and build in high ethical standards is to make it hit the only nerve these corporations have - the bottom line. Fining these companies a couple of million dollars is a joke.

    As for blaming employees when they get caught - a company is it's employees - or so almost all internal corporate literature tells them. I'm curious, did these employees get fired immediately after these emails were sent and made examples of with official letters of clarifications sent out to the recipients? I doubt it.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    Re: lower level employees

    Right. And where did these employees get the idea that they could send such emails.

    Not all employees always ask permission to perform their tasks. If they can make a sale by BS'ing their way through it, you can be sure they will.

    Companies don't operate on a strong set of ethics. Yes, they all preach having ethics and how they are important, and even adhere to them - as long as they don't relate to profits that is.

    Technically, where is the breach of ethics here? There is nothing unethical about trying to gain an advantage in market, or making deals to sell your goods.

    It is monopolistic behavior under the crunch of antitrust abuse, but that, by itself, does not make it unethical.

    I'm curious, did these employees get fired immediately after these emails were sent and made examples of with official letters of clarifications sent out to the recipients? I doubt it.


    They wouldn't be fired immediately after they were sent. That would imply that Intel was reading each and every email their employees wrote. And everyone would be hopped up on them snooping into such things.

    And not everybody out there believes people should have a one-strike-and-you're-out policy. If that were the case, Steve Jobs would never have been allowed back into Apple.

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