A long-standing gag order on a major antitrust case needs to be lifted, according to a motion filed today by news organizations and the Computer & Communications Industry Association.
CCIA along with the New York Times, The Register, Dow Jones, the Washington Post and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked a federal court in Delaware to unseal records in the AMD Intel lawsuit. Intel is accused of illegally operating a monopoly on microprocessors and using a rebate program to coerce customers into avoiding competitors’ products.
The judge in the Delaware case issued a protective order, but CCIA and others argue that it has been so broadly interpreted that it has resulted in no documents in the case being available to the public or the media. While certain parts of some document may need to be censored to protect trade secrets, it is important to the public interest that the evidence related to the charges be open, CCIA and others argue in the motion to intervene.
This case has taken on greater significance now that the FTC is investigating Intel and South Korea and Japan have already found Intel guilty of the charges alleged in this suit. The EU is investigating and expected to rule by September. Monopolies cost consumers because they keep prices high and cost the national economy when innovators are blocked from competing. Intel has captured 80 percent of the units sold and 90 percent of the revenue in the microprocessor market. If they are abusing this supra-dominant position illegally, the public, competitors, shareholders and regulators need to know.
“We trust the court can find a way to protect the companies’ trade secrets, without blocking all information on the allegations in this case. Intel has already been fined $25 million in South Korea for engaging in this illegal, anticompetitive rebate program. We would hope evidence related to that illegal behavior and business practice would not be something anyone would want to or could afford to emulate. We’d also hope that in reviewing our motion the court decides that providing trade secret protection to evidence related to illegal business practices and behavior would be adverse to the public interest,” said Ed Black, President & CEO Computer & Communications Industry Association.
CCIA’s attorney David Finger at Finger & Slanina filed the motion.
“The public has a well-established right to observe what is going on in our courts, whether it is a criminal trial or a business dispute. Each in its own way has an important impact on society, and public access promotes confidence that justice is being done fairly,” Finger said. “Also, because the presiding judge’s calendar is overwhelmed, the parties asked for the court to refer the motion to another judge in order to expedite resolution of the request.”