previously reported on Rambus' latest legal activities, with Micron being
the last company to be taken to court. Hynix has now become the top bearer of
legal bad news -- Rambus claims that Hynix is infringing on a number of DRAM
In a turn of events however, Hynix
is countering the Rambus suits, stating that many of Rambus' patents, are
based on a collection of old ideas and older patents which are owned by other
companies and were filed long ago. In conjunction with these previously
patented ideas, Hynix says that Rambus combines them with new ideas to file for
patents. According to Hynix counsel, the problem is that patents were granted
to Rambus even when the patents encompassed prior art and concepts. Using an
analogy, one Hynix lawyer stated that it was as if Rambus built a house but
then claimed that the hammers and nails were also its invention.
So far, the Hynix case isn't proceeding in-depth in either direction, but
Rambus has a long list of court successes in its portfolio. The company is at
the forefront of memory intellectual properties development since its inception
and its technologies are used in a wide array of applications from a myriad of
companies. Most companies that have been taken to court by Rambus end up paying
fines to Rambus in the multi-millions of dollars with ongoing royalties.
Analysts are saying that if Hynix manages to convince the jury in this case
that Rambus' patents are invalid due to overlapping patents, it could very well
be the saving grace for other DRAM companies.
Despite these claims, Hynix itself is in hot water for allegedly participating
in DRAM price fixing. Last year, both Hynix and Samsung faced charges by the US
Department of Justice for conspiring to fix prices, which affected many large
system builders and OEMs. Micron was left uncharged after it helped the US DOJ
with the investigation -- a move many critics claim was unfavorably bias.
Rambus argues that Hynix and other DRAM companies are also conspiring to
"starve" the company to death by dragging out these court actions as
well as refusing to pay. Rambus counsel claims that Hynix, along with several
other companies, already committed illegal activities prior to this case and
therefore further illegal activities would be very plausible. U.S. District
Court Judge Ronald Whyte said that he would allow Rambus to explain its
Hynix is the first memory company so far to challenge Rambus' patents in this
manner. However, Rambus has extremely valid arguments on its hands because of
Hynix's previous illegal activities in which last year it paid over $185 million
for. Unfortunately for Hynix, the courts are not looking at its tarnished
record with smiling faces.