Intel Corp. is getting itself sucked into a public relations mess over its business dispute with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Unfortunately, it seems top executives at the semiconductor company aren't even aware of the danger.
Take Craig Barrett's recent comments about a raid on Intel's offices in Europe by investigators seeking evidence against the company for allegedly anti-competitive practices.
Barrett, chairman of Intel, reportedly told a news agency that Intel didn't have a "chance to respond to the first allegations yet," before the raid. That's baloney.
The idea that Intel isn't ready to present its case rings hollow considering authorities in the United States, Korea and Japan have either opened or concluded investigations into what AMD termed anti-competitive practices by its bigger rival.
Barrett only made the company look like it wants to stall the investigation, an accusation AMD has repeatedly made and which EU investigators now seem to agree could be true. That's why the EU investigators raided Intel's business premises.
The European Commission expects Intel to answer questions on the case in closed hearings early in March.
Intel might not have done anything wrong. In fact, as spokesman Chuck Molloy once told me the competitive marketplace could be "working as it should"--at least going by recent fumbles at AMD.
Still, wittingly or unwittingly, Intel is giving the public an impression that it has something to hide.
The legal tussle between Intel and AMD will eventually be resolved either in the courtroom or through some other agreements between the two companies. However, there is another battle taking place in the public sphere and Intel, if it doesn't rein in Barrett, might give itself a technical knockout.
Barrett was trying to defend Intel but he might have instead handed AMD a public relations weapon it can use in a battle the smaller microprocessor company can't seem to win in the marketplace.
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