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Intel gets reprieve over Pentium 4 claims

Chip giant accused of misrepresenting P4 speeds

Intel had a legal reprieve last week when an Illinois judge threw out a state appeals court ruling that would have launched a nationwide class-action lawsuit against the company over its Pentium 4 processors.

The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appeals court, which had said the suit could go forward. The action accused Intel of misrepresenting the speed of Pentium 4 processors.

The case was originally filed in the Illinois District Court in Madison County by Barbara's Sales Inc. and others in 2002. The case reached the Supreme Court after appeals by Intel. The plaintiffs originally sought to apply two California laws and one Illinois law to launch a nationwide suit.

However, as the two states' laws conflict, the suit applies only to Illinois law, Supreme Court Judge Thomas Fitzgerald wrote in his opinion. He ruled that it couldn't go forward as a class action.

Fitzgerald sent the suit back to the appeals court. The case can now proceed as an individual action, with Illinois law governing the issues of liability and damage, the judge wrote.

The Pentium 4 processor was launched in 2000, and the plaintiffs alleged that it didn't live up to the represented advancement in performance over Pentium III or AMD chips, according to the court document.

Intel is gratified with the outcome and has yet to decide on the next steps to take, said Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman.


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