Hynix claims that Rambus' patents are invalid because Rambus is reinventing patents made by other companies

We 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 patents.

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 "starving" case.

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.

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