Intel Persuades Judge to Reject N.Y. AG Request for Nvidia Data

Intel Corp. officials persuaded a judge to rebuff the New York Attorney General’s efforts to get information about a rival’s claim that the computer chipmaker violated antitrust laws, court records show.

Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine today denied New York’s request to have Nvidia Corp.’s lawyers hand over information generated in a 2009 Delaware lawsuit against Intel over chip-licensing agreements, according to a transcript of a court hearing. The state’s lawyers accused Intel of improperly using a confidentiality order in the civil case to block them from getting Nvidia information about antitrust claims.

“What you are trying to do is make them your sled dog,” Strine told the state’s lawyers at a hearing today, according to the transcript. “I mean, this is ridiculous.”

Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, has agreed to pay more than $2.7 billion in settlements over the last 14 months to resolve antitrust litigation over its chips, including a $1.5 billion accord with Nvidia in January.

The chipmaker also agreed in August not to use retaliation or exclusive deals to block customers from choosing its rivals’ products in an agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. In May 2009, Intel was fined 1.06 billion euros ($1.47 billion) by the European Union over antitrust violations. Intel is appealing that fine.

“We are happy that the judge concluded that the New York Attorney General was overreaching with his request,” Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said in a telephone interview today.

Sued in 2009

New York officials sued Intel in federal court in Delaware in November 2009 accusing the company of threatening computer manufacturers and making billions of dollars in illegal payments to pressure them to use its chips. That case is still pending, according to court filings.

Strine noted New York officials sought to have Nvidia executives turn over lawyers’ analyses of Intel’s potential antitrust violations that were generated as part of the Delaware case, according to the transcript. That case settled as part of Intel’s January accord with its rival.

Officials of Santa Clara, California-based Nvidia refused to comply with New York’s requests for those analyses, saying Strine had ordered them to be kept confidential, according to court filings.

The judge said Intel already had turned over all documents in the Delaware case to New York’s lawyers. “You’re not seeking corporate knowledge,” he added. “You’re seeking litigation counsel’s knowledge.”

Intel accounts for more than 80 percent of global computer-chip sales, dwarfing Advanced Micro Devices Inc., its closest competitor.

The case is Intel Corp. v. Nvidia Corp., 4373-VCS, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).

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