Chipping away

The Madison County Record Dec. 2, 2007, 5:49am

Silicon Valley's Intel Corp. invented a series of microprocessors that have accelerated the power of computing to a level once unimaginable, forever changing the world as we know it for the far better.

Madison County's Stephen Tillery invented a legal theory against Intel, assailing it as a fraudulent enterprise that, frankly, isn't innovating fast enough.

That was Tillery-the-technologist's opinion, and the basis for his four-year quest for court approval to pursue a national class action against Intel, charging its Pentium IV product wasn't any faster than the Pentium III.

The contrast about says it all. There, they invent products that transform the face of technology. Here, we invent lawsuits that seek to chisel away some of the spoils of their gallant efforts.

Thankfully, muting at least some of the embarrassment, the State Supreme Court shot down Tillery's "invention" this week, calling his claims non-actionable "mere puffery."

Tillery tried to argue that consumers had been duped into thinking the Pentium IV was "better" than the Pentium III when, in his expert opinion, it was not. He wanted partial refunds for all and, as is the custom, a nice multi-million dollar contingency payday for himself.

Led by Supreme Court Justice Thomas Fitzgerald, the Court nixed the position of the Fifth District Appellate Court, which had desperately tried to help Tillery proceed. A three-judge majority ruled in his favor in 2006, arguing the lawyer could base his suit on California law and try it on behalf of all Intel customers in Illinois courts.

Had their will been upheld, this case would have turned the Illinois judiciary into a super-national regulatory regime for the semiconductor industry, setting standards for how companies could market computer processors for all Americans.

Of course, contrary to the delusions of some in robes and all attorneys stalking class action status, this is not our courts' role.

Someday, we dream, the Metro-East will be better known for its innovating companies than its innovating lawyers; for adding wealth rather than extracting it.

More rulings like this one, shattering the jackpot justice hopes and dreams of men like Mr. Tillery, can only put our communities on the right path.

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Intel Corp
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