Consumers unharmed by Intel marketing practices, says court

Intel has won an important ruling in an anti-trust case which alleged that consumers had been hurt by the company’s marketing practices.

The US District Court for the District of Delaware refused to allow the suit – which originated as two dozen individual cases – to gain class-action  status.

Customers had alleged that Intel was using discounts to deter manufacturers from using AMD chips.

But court official Vincent Poppiti, brought in as a ‘special master’ to review the allegations, said that the discounts helped keep prices down. Many manufacturers, he said, passed the savings on to consumers.

And the decision may merely be the calm before the storm for Intel, which is facing substantially similar charges in a number of other lawsuits.

It’s had plenty of this sort of thing before, too: last year it was hit with a $1.45 billion fine by the EU. This may have made the company a little twitchy, because in November it agreed to pay AMD $1.25 billion to settle similar charges over unfair discounts.

The plaintiffs have three weeks in which to appeal against yesterday’s decision – and their lawyer, Guido Saveri, told the Wall Street Journal that they intend to. The decision was unfair, he said, given that AMD and the EU had already received compensation for these same actions from Intel.

“It’s ridiculous that that the only people who are not getting paid are the guys who are hurt,” he said.