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AMD Looking for a Buyer?

AMD is consulting with JP Morgan Chase & Co., to explore options, that could pull it out of its grim financial situation. These could include a sale. The company is struggling to find itself a role in an industry that's increasingly focused on mobile, away from PCs. On hearing the news, the company stock surged 18 percent before closing for the day at 5 percent up, at $2.09, on the NYSE. Some of these options could include a sale of its portfolio of patents to raise cash. With the emergence of ARM SoC industry, AMD finds itself holding valuable IP that could fetch cash.

In a statement to Reuters, a company spokesperson said: "AMD's board and management believe that the strategy the company is currently pursuing to drive long-term growth by leveraging AMD's highly-differentiated technology assets is the right approach to enhance shareholder value. AMD is not actively pursuing a sale of the company or significant assets at this time." Some analysts believe that AMD will not be able to reverse its decline in time, given the rate at which it's laying off engineers, others add that it might be difficult to buy AMD as a whole, since it's considered to be a "legacy company."Source: Reuters

Intel Appeals Against $1.3 Billion Fine by EU, from 2009

Around three years after the European Commission slapped Intel with a record €1.06 billion fine for anti-competitive practices against market rival AMD, the company appealed against the fine, on grounds that the commission relied on "profoundly inadequate" evidence to establish anti-competition charges against the company, which lead to the fine. A 5-member bench of General Court in Luxembourg, Europe's second highest, will hear arguments of both Intel and EU's regulators, during a 4-day hearing. Intel wants its conviction quashed and its fine reduced/removed. According to European regulators, major computer manufacturers such as HP, Dell, and Lenovo, received unfair rebates from Intel for opting for its chips. The case is T-286/09, Intel vs Commission.

Source: Reuters

Panel-Maker AUOptronics Convicted of Price-Fixing, Could Face Up To $1B in Fines

One of the biggest suppliers of LCD panels to notebook and PC monitor manufacturers, AUOptronics, has been convicted by a US court on Tuesday, of price-fixing, a serious anti-competitive practice that cripples innovation and is bad for consumers and progress of the industry. The company faces fines as high as US $1 billion, which could amount to a big blow to the company that already finds itself facing losses.

AUOptronics' conviction follows the December 2011 mega-settlement of LCD makers including Samsung, Sharp, Hitachi, HannStar, and Chimei Innolux. At the time, AUOptronics and LG Electronics were the only fence-sitters. LG Electronics agreed to pay a US $400 million fine, in 2008. AUOptronics' current position is that it finds the evidence presented against it, which led to the conviction as being "distorted and incomplete," and that it will appeal against the verdict. The quantum of fine levied against AUOptronics will surface in the months ahead.Sources: Reuters, The Verge

ISPs Should Do More to Safeguard the Web: FCC Chairman

US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman sought "smart, practical, voluntary solutions", without mandating his own, for internet service providers (ISPs) to fight online fraud and data theft. Chairman Julius Genachowski estimated that 8.4 million credit-card details are stolen online, each year. "If consumers lose trust in the Internet, this will suppress broadband adoption and online commerce and communication, and all the benefits that come with it," Genachowski said in a speech. The FCC feels ISPs can come up with solutions that prevent client PCs in the US from being forced into malicious botnets by hackers, without having to encroach upon users' privacy.

Genachowski urged ISPs to adopt DNSSEC, a system that ensures people accessing sensitive sites such as their banks' online transaction portals go to the right address, and not redirected to a fraudulent password phishing site. "To be effective, everyone who is a part of the Internet ecosystem must play a meaningful role in ensuring that private and government networks, and personal computers and devices are secured," said Comcast/NBCUniversal President Kyle McSlarrow in a blog posting. Comcast is one of America's biggest ISPs. This is an example of how threats to the sanctity of a productive internet can be defeated with highly-specific solutions that don't threaten privacy and freedoms, instead of broad-scoped legislations that potentially do.

Source: Reuters

Fair Labour Association Calls Apple's Factories "First Class"

Earlier this week, it was reported that Apple was conducting inspections of the manufacturing facilities of its foundry partners via independent agencies, to assess working conditions and well-being of workers. It requested the Fair Labour Association (FLA) to carry out the inspections. In addition to Foxconn, the FLA will inspect facilities of Quanta Computer Inc, Pegatron Corp, Wintek Corp and others. While the final report of its inspections will be released only by late next month, FLA revealed its first impressions of what it saw.

The FLA finds the working conditions in foundry partner Foxconn's facilities "above average". Auret van Heerden, president of the FLA commented on the Foxconn inspection: "The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm." He continued, "I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory," he said. "So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. It's more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps."

Rambus Barth Patents Claim Completely Invalidated by US Government

In a landmark development, the US Government invalidated the last of three of Rambus' claims to key patents that saw it locked in successful patent-infringement lawsuits against the likes of NVIDIA and Hewlett-Packard, among others. The three patents are related to memory chip design, and are among the most valuable patents held by Rambus. An appeals board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) declared the patent invalid on January 24, according to a ruling posted on their website. The previous two were declared invalid in September, 2011.

The Barth patents have been used by Rambus to sue a long list of companies in the PC industry, including NVIDIA and AMD. It has been used to extract millions of dollars in licensing fees from the likes of the already cash-strapped AMD, through settlements. NVIDIA's patience seems to have paid off. Rambus can appeal the latest decision from the PTO. "We're evaluating our options," said company spokeswoman Linda Ashmore.Source: Reuters
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