New Intel Corporate Lawyer Is Antitrust Expert

The same day Intel settles its long-running legal battles with AMD, the company announces that it is hiring a corporate counsel with decades of antitrust experience. That experience will be important as Intel faces antitrust challenges from regulators in the United States and overseas, including the appeal of a $1.45 billion fine leveled by the European Commission.

The same day that Intel settled its long-running legal disputes with rival Advanced Micro Devices, the giant chip maker also hired an antitrust expert as its top lawyer.

Intel reportedly hired A. Douglas Melamed, a longtime attorney with Washington, D.C., law firm WilmerHale, to fill the position of general counsel, which has been vacant since Bruce Sewell left to join Apple in September. Melamed is expected to join Intel later this month.

Melamed comes with extensive experience in antitrust law, which will be important for Intel as it negotiates its way through the various legal challenges brought by government regulators.

According to Melamed's biography on the WilmerHale Website, the lawyer first joined the firm in 1971 and is now a partner in the firm's Regulatory and Government Affairs Department and a member of the Antitrust and Competition Practice Group.

He has more than 30 years in antitrust law and has argued cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Melamed also spent five years with the Department of Justice, eventually becoming acting assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ's Antitrust Division.

Antitrust will be a key focus at Intel for Melamed, whose hiring was reported by the Wall Street Journal. Even though the chip maker has settled with AMD-a deal that will cost Intel $1.25 billion-Intel still has to deal with regulators here and in Europe.

The European Commission in May fined Intel $1.45 billion for anticompetitive business practices, which Intel is appealing. Intel also is facing a lawsuit filed earlier this month by N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating Intel, though it's unclear what impact the settlement with AMD will on that investigation.

Intel's legal struggles stem from rebates and other payments to OEMs, including Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, that regulators claim were made to persuade them to limit their use of AMD technology in their products. AMD and regulators also claim that Intel used retaliatory tactics against those system makers who opted to use AMD chips.

During a conference call Nov. 12 discussing the settlement, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said the two companies had been negotiating a settlement since April, and that while Intel had agreed to the payment and to adhering to a set of acceptable business practices, Intel executives believe they acted within the law in offering these rebates.

Otellini said the settlement was a matter of expediency to avoid the cost and risk of going to trial, which was scheduled for March 2010.

AMD officials said the deal will mean that they will be able to compete in a fair and open marketplace.