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Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.

Supreme Court of the United States

April 20, 2004, Argued ; June 21, 2004, Decided

No. 02-572


 [*246]  [**2472]    Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court.

LEdHN[7A][7A] This case concerns the authority of federal district courts to assist in the production of evidence for use in a foreign or international tribunal. In the matter before us, respondent Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD), filed an antitrust complaint against petitioner Intel Corporation (Intel) with the Directorate-General for Competition (DG-Competition) of the Commission of the European Communities (European Commission or Commission). In pursuit of that complaint, AMD applied to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, invoking 28 U.S.C. § 1782(a) [28 USCS § 1782(a)], for an order requiring Intel to produce potentially relevant documents. Section 1782(a) provides that ] a federal district court "may order" a person "resid[ing]" or "found" in the district to give testimony or produce documents "for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal . . . upon the application of any interested person."

Concluding that § 1782(a) did [****13]  not authorize the requested discovery, the District Court denied AMD's application. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed that determination and remanded the case, instructing the District Court to rule on the merits of AMD's application. In accord with the Court of Appeals, we hold that the District Court had authority under § 1782(a) to entertain AMD's discovery request. The statute, we rule, does not categorically bar the assistance AMD seeks: (1) A complainant before the European Commission, such as AMD, qualifies as an "interested person" within § 1782(a)'s compass; (2) the Commission [**2473]  is a § 1782(a) "tribunal" when it acts as a first-instance  [*247]  decisionmaker; (3) the "proceeding" for which discovery is sought under § 1782(a) must be in reasonable contemplation, but need not be "pending" or "imminent"; and (4) § 1782(a) contains no threshold requirement that evidence sought from a federal district court would be discoverable under the law governing the foreign proceeding. We caution, however, ] that § 1782(a) authorizes, but does not  [1005]  require, a federal district court to provide judicial assistance to foreign or international tribunals or to "interested person[s]"  [****14]  in proceedings abroad. Whether such assistance is appropriate in this case is a question yet unresolved. To guide the District Court on remand, we suggest considerations  [***367]  relevant to the disposition of that question.

Section 1782 is the product of congressional efforts, over the span of nearly 150 years, to provide federal-court assistance in gathering evidence for use in foreign tribunals. Congress first provided for federal-court aid to foreign tribunals in 1855; requests for aid took the form of letters rogatory forwarded through diplomatic channels. See Act of Mar. 2, 1855, ch 140, § 2, 10 Stat 630 (circuit court may appoint "a United States commissioner designated . . . to make the examination of witnesses" on receipt of a letter rogatory from a foreign court); Act of Mar. 3, 1863, ch 95, § 1, 12 Stat 769 (authorizing district courts to respond to letters rogatory by compelling witnesses here to provide testimony for use abroad in "suit[s] for the recovery of money or property"). 1 In 1948, Congress substantially broadened the scope of assistance  [*248]  federal courts could provide for foreign proceedings. That legislation, codified as § 1782, eliminated the prior requirement [****15]  that the government of a foreign country be a party or have an interest in the proceeding. The measure allowed district courts to designate persons to preside at depositions "to be used in any civil action pending in any court in a foreign country with which the United States is at peace." Act of June 25, 1948, ch 646, § 1782, 62 Stat 949 (emphasis added). The next year, Congress deleted "civil action" from § 1782's text and inserted "judicial proceeding." Act of May 24, 1949, ch 139, § 93, 63 Stat 103. See generally Jones, International Judicial Assistance: Procedural Chaos and a Program for Reform, 62 Yale L. J. 515 (1953).

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542 U.S. 241 *; 124 S. Ct. 2466 **; 159 L. Ed. 2d 355 ***; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4570 ****; 71 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1001; 72 U.S.L.W. 4528; 2004-1 Trade Cas. (CCH) P74,453; 64 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 742; 58 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 696; 17 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 399


Subsequent History:  [****1] Application denied by Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. v. Intel Corp., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21437 (N.D. Cal., Oct. 4, 2004)


Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. v. Intel Corp., 292 F.3d 664, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 10759 (9th Cir. Cal., 2002)

Disposition: Affirmed.


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