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When Intel Corp. was hit with an antitrust suit by its archrival last month, the chip maker called on some familiar faces. Its team at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher includes Washington, D.C., antitrust partner Joseph Kattan and Los Angeles litigation partner Robert Cooper, both veterans of Intel’s past run-ins with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and antitrust regulators. It appears the two will have their hands full — and so will lawyers of all stripes. The complaint filed by AMD was accompanied by an all-out public relations blitz and a similar antitrust complaint filed in Japan, following a finding by authorities of Intel violations there. The suits, along with the accusations they contain, have added fuel to regulatory investigations into Intel’s business practices and prompted a flurry of class action complaints. And AMD subpoenas sent to dozens of companies that do business with Intel (and, in some cases, with AMD) have left in-house lawyers wondering just how to respond. The suit, filed on AMD’s behalf by O’Melveny & Myers Los Angeles partner Charles Diamond, contends that Intel used bribes and threats to coerce computer makers and distributors into choosing their chips over AMD’s. “I think it will be a tooth-and-nail fight,” says Martin Fliesler, of the San Francisco IP boutique Fliesler Meyer, which represented AMD through many of its battles with Intel over the years. “Lots of companies will get involved, lots of law firms.” On Tuesday, Intel said it had received surprise visits from European antitrust inspectors at several of its offices there. Authorities also paid a visit to Dell Inc., one of Intel’s biggest clients. A Dell spokesman wouldn’t comment on its legal plans. An Intel spokesman said Wednesday that its team at Gibson Dunn had been handling the Europe probe for the past four years and would continue to do so. “The investigation isn’t new,” said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy. “The visit was.” Mulloy said Intel has also turned to Howrey for help with the AMD litigation. Intel is using a separate firm in Japan for its defense there. Plaintiffs lawyers have been quick to pounce — especially since the EU raid. “That was sort of like an alarm bell going off,” said Thomas Dove, of The Furth Firm in San Francisco. “The EU has picked up the scent from what the Japanese authorities [uncovered].” Already, about 15 antitrust suits have been filed in federal court in California and several in Delaware since the AMD filing. Five of them were filed by Portland, Ore.-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, and at least one by Delaware-based Chimicles & Tikellis. Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein filed a complaint in San Francisco federal court July 11, and The Furth Firm accompanied its filing with an application to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The Judicial Panel will eventually decide in which district the consolidated cases might be heard and by which judge. That judge would have say over which attorneys would have lead counsel status in the case. “I would analogize it to all of the consumer suits against Microsoft,” says Susan Kupfer, a former law professor and now a plaintiffs attorney at San Francisco’s Glancy Binkow & Goldberg. “Intel has a similar enormous share of the market, and there is potential for damages up and down the chain.” Aside from claims by computer owners, there could also be suits on behalf of computer makers, retailers and distributors, and other chip makers. But some would find it harder to make a case, said Dove, since AMD’s complaint states indirect purchasers were paid to buy from Intel. “It makes it somewhat difficult for them to turn around and sue,” said Dove. Intel isn’t commenting yet on who will represent the company in the class actions. Also likely to turn to outside counsel are some of the 32 companies that have been asked by AMD to preserve documents. “It’s likely a matter of considerable concern for some people,” said Tyler Baker, co-chair of the antitrust and unfair competition group at Fenwick & West. “In order to get the kind of information that AMD is going to want, they are going to get into some sensitive and confidential issues.”

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