The US Federal Trade Commission has just
issued the following statement: "By a unanimous vote, the Federal
Trade Commission has determined that computer technology developer Rambus, Inc.
unlawfully monopolized the markets for four computer memory technologies that
have been incorporated into industry standards for dynamic random access memory
– DRAM chips."
Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour is responsible for official opinion, and further adds
“Through its successful strategy, Rambus was able to conceal its patents and
patent applications until after the standards were adopted and the market was
locked in. Only then did Rambus reveal its patents – through patent
infringement lawsuits against JEDEC members who practiced the standard,”
continues the official opinion.
The FTC ruling comes just days after a US judge halved the cash award that
Rambus received after suing Hynix over patent infringement. The Hynix
ruling and the FTC statement are certainly no coincidence: the patents the FTC alleges
that Rambus submarined into JEDEC are the same patents Hynix was sued over.
The plot further thickens with the fact that Rambus is simultaneously suing the
major DRAM manufacturers for artificially deflating the price of SDRAM in an
effort to dampen RDRAM sales. Additionally, Attorneys General of 34 states have filed major
antitrust lawsuits against the largest DRAM manufacturers on monopoly
allegations, with the key evidence coming from email messages obtained by
Rambus. Samsung, the primary manufacturer for Rambus, was strikingly
absent from the monopoly filings.
Interestingly enough, the FTC has not issued any penalties for Rambus, and
doesn't even promise that any further charges will be brought against Rambus. The FTC opinion adds "Now that the Commission has found, and
determined the scope of liability, the Commission believes it would exercise
its broad remedial powers most responsibly after additional briefings and, if
necessary, oral argument devoted specifically to remedial issues."
Ultimately, no party in this continuing saga has had a consistent or innocent
message. For those of us who follow the technology industry, the DRAM
industry is the only sector where multiple parties claim the other has a
quote: And, of course, no one is able to 'conceal' patents....they are a matter of public record. A company can fail to advertise their ownership of a particular patent...but since when did this become a crime?
quote: What they did was bad not just for Micron, Samsung et. al. It was bad for the consumers, because it increases the price of the technology.
quote: I don't dispute that in the least. Still, that doesn't make Rambus a monopoly
quote: It's "market share" is, has been, and will always be, zero. Rather makes it difficult to hold a monopoly position
quote: no one is able to 'conceal' patents
quote: most schools are not labeled conservative or liberal
quote: Good question. I think they should get at leaast some of it back. But alas, my law experience is nil.