Intel, Digital lawyers swap jabs

An exchange of letters between attorneys for Digital Equipment Corp. and Intel Corp. shows how quickly Digital's patent suit against Intel turned against it.

Intel late yesterday filed a suit against Digital demanding the return of confidential documents related to upcoming processors, such as the Deschutes processor. Digital had received these documents under non-disclosure agreements. Intel today also made it very clear to reporters and analysts that its contracts to provide Digital with processors expire at the end of the third quarter.

Following are excerpts from letters between F. Thomas Dunlap, Intel vice president and general counsel, and Thomas C. Siekman, Digital vice president and general counsel.

May 15 letter from Dunlap to Siekman: In the past few days several of your senior executives have been quoted as saying that DEC has "long-standing supply agreements with Intel." We are not aware of any supply agreement between Intel and DEC with respect to Pentium, Pentium Pro or Pentium II processors other than our usual purchase order and acknowledgement process, which only covers sales through Q3.

May 20 letter from Siekman to Dunlap: We are surprised by your inquiry regarding ... long-standing supply agreements between Digital and Intel ... The current BOA [Basic Order Agreement] was extended last year and will now expire on June 30, 1999.

Digital senior executives have also expressed their intent that the patent infringement suit ... remain a technology dispute and that it not impact the commercial relationship between our two companies.

... [Since] the filing of the lawsuit, Intel representatives have cancelled several meetings with Digital personnel, including long-arranged meetings between engineers to review data connected with the "Deschutes" product introduction. Intel representatives ... have requested return of "Deschutes Yellow Book" materials. Ongoing review of this Yellow Book data is necessary to facilitate delivery of a Digital Deschutes-compatible product at the time of the official Intel product introduction.

We assume that these recent actions are aberrations


May 27 letter from Dunlap to Siekman: Intel is amazed that DEC continues to state that it expects the relationship to remain the same as it was before DEC filed the 10 patent lawsuits ... DEC's top executives went so far as to publicly allege that Intel has "copied" and "stolen" DEC's technology ... It is reasonable to think that the relationship between the companies can remain the same in light of these unfounded public statements attacking Intel's integrity ...

You apparently believe that Intel will continue to transfer its technology to DEC by continuing to provide Intel-confidential technical information ... These Intel assets are valuable Intel intellectual property and we certainly do not intend to provide them to DEC while DEC is suing Intel on DEC's intellectual property and accusing Intel of stealing its technology.

Accordingly, your assumption that Intel's request that DEC return Intel's technology is an "aberration" is completely wrong.