Intel may have lost some internal e-mails that the company is required to produce in a lawsuit brought against it by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), lawyers for the company said Monday.
In a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Farnan Jr., one of Intel's lawyers revealed that some internal e-mails were missing, despite the company's efforts to preserve documents related to the case. "Intel is taking this matter very seriously. It very much regrets this happened," wrote Richard Horowitz, a partner at Potter, Anderson & Corroon, which represents Intel.
Horowitz blamed the possible loss of e-mails on human error. For instance, when Intel employees were instructed to retain e-mails on their hard drives, some employees did not move e-mails from their sent folder to the hard drives, assuming that the company's e-mail servers would preserve them. Instead, the e-mail servers regularly delete e-mails after a certain amount of time has passed, he said.
Other employees wrongly assumed that Intel's IT department was automatically saving their e-mails, while some may not have saved all of their e-mails, Horowitz said. In addition, Intel failed to notify hundreds of employees to retain e-mails related to the case, he said.
The allegedly lost e-mails were generated "primarily" after AMD filed suit against Intel on June 27, 2005, but earlier e-mails could not be ruled out as among those missing, Horowitz said.
In a related filing to the court, AMD blasted Intel's apparent failure to preserve the missing e-mails. "Through what appears to be a combination of gross communication failures, an ill-conceived plan of document retention and lackluster oversight by outside counsel, Intel has apparently allowed evidence to be destroyed," AMD said, noting that Intel continued to allow e-mails to be deleted from its servers after the lawsuit was filed.
"Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong," AMD said.
AMD and Intel are scheduled to discuss the document retention failures at a status meeting on March 7. AMD demanded in its letter to the court that Intel be required to give a full accounting of its document "preservation problems" no later than March 21.
AMD's 2005 suit alleges that Intel engaged in anti-competitive practices to bolster a monopolistic position in the PC processor market. AMD claims that Intel coerced 38 hardware manufacturers, including Dell and Sony, into using only Intel processors or discontinuing use or promotion of AMD products. The alleged threats include forcing manufacturers into exclusive relationships, or offering deep discounts or marketing subsidies in exchange for discontinuing the use of AMD products. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, covers Intel operations in North America, Asia, and Europe.
The suit was based in part on the findings of a Japanese anti-trust investigation, which found in March 2005 that Intel had abused its market position to restrain competition in Japan's microprocessor market.