Semiconductor firm touts lawsuit's merits

SUNNYVALE, CA: In deciding to wage its latest war with Intel in the courts, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) realized that the court of public opinion was just as important.

SUNNYVALE, CA: In deciding to wage its latest war with Intel in the courts, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) realized that the court of public opinion was just as important.

So after the $5 billion semiconductor company filed its antitrust suit against Intel, it quickly embarked on a marketing campaign to back it up.

The lawsuit charges that Intel has intimidated PC companies into doing business with the industry leader, thus harming competition.

"We're talking about serious issues and serious allegations," said Mike Simonoff, global communications manager at AMD, of the company's decision to go to such lengths to explain its actions. "This is something that affects people around the world, and it's virtually unknown outside the industry."

A new print ad campaign features CEO and chairman Hector Ruiz directing readers to a website dedicated to the lawsuit where they can read the 48-page complaint.

The ads ran in such papers as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the San Jose Mercury News. Banner ads are running on business websites, as well.

Waggener Edstrom is working with AMD on media outreach, said Simonoff.

Antitrust lawyers interviewed by The New York Times and the Mercury News called the marketing unusual. But some were a bit harsher, calling the lawsuit and outreach "as much press splash as lawsuit," and "half-complaint, half press release" in the Mercury News.

But Simonoff called such accusations "ridiculous," asserting that AMD would not have gone to the expense of filing a lawsuit if it were only to get publicity.

"Considering the cost of undertaking a lawsuit, there are far better ways to spend money if this was just about generating attention," he said.

Simonoff did concede, however, that AMD is keenly aware of the power of public opinion. And AMD's goal with the lawsuit is to get Intel to change its behavior.

"And if this attention helps them change their behavior, where we can compete on the merits of the products, then it's a win for us," added Simonoff.

Tom Beermann, manager of corporate press relations at Intel, said the company would prevail in the lawsuit. He called the marketing component an "interesting tactic," but declined to comment further.

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