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ED#54 : The AMD NDA Scandal
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AMD NDA Scandal

Just two weeks ago, we reported that a Thai journalist walked out of the hush-hush (but ultimately pointless) AMD event in Singapore over a controversial NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) that required him to "send any stories to the vendor before his newspaper can publish it". AMD categorically denied it happened, stating... is inaccurate. We had a great session yesterday and the journalists came away with a better understanding and even more enthusiasm about our upcoming barcelona launch. Definitely no one walked out of yesterday's presentation.

Today, we can confirm that report and even identify the journalist who walked out. He is none other than Don Sambandaraksa of the Bangkok Post, whom I met once. He posted about the issue just a few days ago. By coming out and clearing the air about the issue, we now have a much better understanding of what went on.

All of those invited to the event were given an NDA to sign before going on that 5-star, all-expense-paid trip to Singapore. Hidden in that piece of legal boilerplate were some sneaky clauses. Yeah, don't we just love those clauses. This is what Don found in that NDA :

First off, the non-disclosure agreement covered everything confidential said or written over the next two years on the product, and had a duration of five years, during which anything published or used in marketing would have to receive written approval from AMD before it could be used. Worse, at the end of the five years, all copies of the information made would have to be returned to the chipmaker.

Translated, that means those who sign the NDA must get their work approved in writing by AMD before they can be published. If that's not unethical, then we need to rewrite the dictionary. Don stomped his foot right there, and apparently so did other journalists. Good for them!

Finally, AMD agreed to let Don and the other journalists attend the event without signing that particular NDA. Everything was hunky-dory on Day 1 of the event, other than the fact that AMD was merely regurgitating what they had already revealed to the US press (and the entire world online) a whole month ago.

On Day 2 though, they were presented with another NDA to sign before a factory visit. This one stipulated that "any confidential information from this visit would need written approval from corporate communications before it could be used". I don't know about you, but that clause sounds exactly like the clause in the first NDA. The PR person even had the temerity to say that it was "just paperwork and that everyone, be it a president or prime minister, had to sign this document". That was when Don walked out.


What Does This Mean To Us?

AMD will be launching their new Quad-Core Opteron (Barcelona) processor tomorrow, September 10, 2007 amid much fanfare and simultaneous article and press releases from websites all over the world. The synchronicity of the whole affair will be ensured by the NDA being enforced on all those who signed it.

It is highly probable that the same NDA will be used to force everyone to toe the line and publish only suitably-positive, pre-approved articles. It's either that or face the threat of lawsuits. So, keep that in mind when you wade through the inevitable deluge of articles and reports on the AMD Quad-Core Opteron (Barcelona) processor from tomorrow onwards.

Curiously, Don stated that "AMD issued an apology a week later saying the incident was a misunderstanding among certain local staff and that it is not, and has never been, AMD policy to vet the stories of tier-1 publications prior to publication." What exactly did AMD mean by that?

Does that mean it is AMD policy to vet tier-2 and tier-3 publications? I will let you decide for yourselves.


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