Rambus Patents are Invalidated, Chipmaker-Turned-Litigator is Left with Few Options
January 30, 2012 3:21 PM
comment(s) - last by
Loss of patents will likely lead to the collapse of suits against HP and NVIDIA
Rambus, Inc. (
) has been in dire straits in federal court. Now its situation has became a whole lot worse as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated three of the company's most critical patents.
I. The End?
From 2004 onwards Rambus had been enjoying fat royalties [
] from a host of top chipmakers. But since Nov. 2011 the company has suffered several key setbacks as companies like Micron Technology, Inc. (
) and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (
) have challenged the legality of Rambus's patents and licensing demands. The biggest -- a
$4B USD loss
in its suit against Micron and Hynix -- sent Rambus shares plummeting.
An appeals board at the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
ruled two key Rambus patents invalid in September. A third patent was ruled invalid in a new ruling that landed on Jan. 24.
first to discover
it, reporting on the issue this week.
The trio of patents were invalidated known as the "Barth patents", after their author, Rambus employee Richard Barth. The patents -- U.S. Patents
-- dealt with methods for sending data to memory on a personal computer device.
Rambus traditionally used the three patents among its six core patents in its litigious efforts.
The options for Rambus in terms of overturning the invalidation are scant. An appeal would go back to the original reviewer, who would be unlikely to wish to overturn the ruling of the higher board, according to Scott Daniels, a partner in the law firm Westerman, Hattori, Daniels and Adrian, LLP.
The decision is a victory for NVIDIA Corp. (
) who initially requested the review. Rambus has been filing both federal court civil suits against NVIDIA alleging billions in infringement losses, and filing complaints with the
U.S. International Trade Commission
looking to block the import of NVIDIA chips into the U.S. on copyright infringement grounds.
The ruling is a victory for NVIDIA (CEO Jen-Hsun Huang pictured) who requested the review. [Image Source: WebOS Nation]
Hewlett-Packard Comp. (
world's largest personal computer manufacturer
(excluding tablets) is also among Rambus's victims.
II. A Cautionary Tale
The decision, should it stand, calls into question a whole slew of Rambus victories both in court and in licensing agreements. With Rambus down to three important patents in hand, its leverage is severely reduced. Rambus shares are down 15 percent since the ruling landed, and are likely to fall further as the fallout in terms of settlements begins.
Rambus still holds 1,000 patents, but it's increasingly looking more like an acquisitions target than a viable firm.
The Rambus case is an unfortunate one, in which Rambus did once have some legitimately good ideas and produce useful products. This outcome serves as a reminder to litigious companies like Microsoft Corp. (
], Apple, Inc. (
], and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
] of the dangers of pushing the patent system and litigation too far. Ultimately Rambus didn't have the rich commercial history of any of the aforementioned firms in terms of putting out useful consumer and business products.
Rambus was once a proud innovator, but turned to litigation amid market failure.
[Image Source: Hector Mata/Bloomberg]
It's easy to write off Rambus as just another "patent troll", but unlike ex-Microsoft CEO Nathan Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures , Rambus was once a legitimate technology producer. In that regards it is
similar to NTP
-- another former innovator turned mass-litigator.
Regardless, history aside, it appears that the curtain has fallen on Rambus's days of success in federal court. And experts are cheering that as a victory for the consumer and for shareholders in chipmaking firms.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: I hate rambus
1/31/2012 10:07:16 AM
Cell debuted at 90nm, not 65nm. Yields were atrocious, and it was a completely new design of CPU.
It was designed to be an all-purpose chip, true, but initially it was a hot, expensive, insane beast. Remember, teardowns of the PS3 in 2006 had the cost of technology at $100
what Sony was charging; ie they were losing money for at least the first 6 months on the thing.
"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
Samsung is Virtually Tied With Apple, Sells 36.5M Smartphones in Q4
January 27, 2012, 10:29 AM
Dutch Court Slaps Apple With Another Loss in its Anti-Android Crusade
January 24, 2012, 7:46 AM
Samsung Loses 3G Patent Case Against Apple in Germany
January 20, 2012, 8:42 AM
Australian Court Silences Apple's Cries, Allows Samsung Tablet to Launch
December 9, 2011, 1:18 PM
Apple's Legal Crusade Against Android Dealt Blow in U.S. Federal Court
December 3, 2011, 6:53 PM
HiPerGator Supercomputer is Florida's Most Powerful Supercomputer
May 17, 2013, 7:08 AM
5/7/2013 Daily Hardware Reviews
May 7, 2013, 12:02 PM
Seagate Unveils New SSD Line for Consumers, Enterprise
May 7, 2013, 10:23 AM
5/6/2013 Daily Hardware Reviews
May 6, 2013, 10:54 AM
Intel Appoints Brian Krzanich as New CEO
May 2, 2013, 9:49 AM
UPDATED: QNAP Launches New NAS Units, QTS 4.0 OS
April 30, 2013, 9:31 PM
Most Popular Articles
Report: Microsoft Eyes Return to "Dying" Windows 7 Path After Windows 8 Flop
May 13, 2013, 9:50 AM
Windows 8.1 Will Be Free; Microsoft Holds Onto Struggling ARM Variant
May 14, 2013, 2:57 PM
Bill Gates Gets Teary-Eyed While Discussing Steve Jobs, Shows Off Life-Saving Tech on 60 Minutes
May 13, 2013, 12:30 PM
Google Announces "Pure" Galaxy Nexus S4 for $649, Android Updates
May 15, 2013, 1:42 PM
Google's Eric Schmidt: "Don't Be Evil" was Stupid
May 14, 2013, 11:00 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Parents of Pre-Teen Drivers Commonly Practice Distracted Driving Says Study
May 9, 2013, 7:16 AM
Apple's iOS 7 Running Into Internal Delays Due to Massive Overhaul
May 1, 2013, 4:26 PM
Elon Musk Willing to Spend More Money on Widening of 405 Freeway
Apr 26, 2013, 7:28 PM
New $100 Bill Due in October
Apr 24, 2013, 11:52 PM
Volkswagen Shows off iBeetle in Shanghai
Apr 22, 2013, 9:29 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2013 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information