Print 51 comment(s) - last by TIG.. on Jul 18 at 9:03 PM

If the major DRAM manufacturers fixed prices from 1998 to 2002, they're about to pay for it

A saga that has been cumulating for the last eight years is about to take another major step.  Seven of the major eight DRAM manufacturers will face a major antitrust complaint filing tomorrow lead by Attorney General Bill Lockyer.  Lockyer's filing for the State of California will be followed by additional suits in thirty-three more states shortly after.

The complaint claims that between 1998 and 2002 seven manufactures colluded to "fix DRAM chip prices, artificially restrain supply, allocate among themselves the production of DRAM chips and markets for the chips, and rig bids for DRAM chip contracts."  When the complaints are filed tomorrow, July 14, the following companies will be named:

  • Elpida Memory (Japan)
  • Hynix Semiconductor (South Korea)
  • Infineon Technologies AG (Germany)
  • Micron Technology (USA)
  • Mosel Vitelic (Taiwan)
  • Nanya Technology Corp. (Taiwan)
  • NEC Electronics America (USA)

Interestingly enough, the world's largest DRAM manufacturer, Samsung, is not listed in the claim.  Samsung had a DRAM market share of roughly 30% at the time and has been found guilty of price fixing during that same period.  In March of 2004, the FTC dropped an antitrust case against Rambus, to which Rambus turned around and sued Infineon, Hynix and Micron for artificially decreasing the price of DRAM to hurt the proliferation of RDRAM. Samsung, Rambus' major producer of RDRAM at the time, was also absent from these accusations.

The alleged collusion hurt the bottom line of several PC manufacturers at the time.  The suit to be filed by Lockyer names several manufactures, including Apple, Compaq, Dell, Gateway and IBM.

An excerpt from one of the claims reads "The manufacturers did not limit this pricing coordination to isolated or occasional conversations. On the contrary, during a roughly four-year period, there were frequent pricing communications among the conspiring manufacturers, exchanges that intensified in the days immediately preceding the dates on which they submitted bids to supply DRAM to the (computer makers), their largest and most important customers."

The industry certainly hasn't been without its share of shakeups.  In March of 2006, four Hynix executives were found guilty of price fixing, and are currently serving jail time.  Three Samsung executives were also found guilty, and Elpida was fined for price fixing too.

The suits seek retribution for the three year price fixing period, and will also impose penalties if the defendants are found guilty.

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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By TIG on 7/16/2006 8:11:51 AM , Rating: 2
Once again, you make no argument related to the statements of these "two guys" patent specification.

There may be people who would think that standing up under oath in a court or in front of the USPTO and making statements that can readily be construed as material misrepresentations of fact isn't exactly the hallmark of "brilliant, Nobel-prize class" thinking. I understand that your investment portfolio would benefit greatly from the upholding of the rather absurdly broad claims allegedly deriving from the many continuations and divisional of the '898 system specification, but there are frankly quite a few incongruities that don't resolve favorably for the "inventors". And yes, there are many venues across the country and around the world where exactly the same issues are apparently being brought forward as part of the Rambus "'priviledged' litigation strategy", that might not be as good a thing as you seem to believe.

Now I understand that my unwillingness to suspend disbelief in order to turn one clock at the midpoint of early clock / late clock (or CTM / CFM if you prefer it that way) into two distinctly separate clocks separately derives and employed as RCLK and TCLK strikes directly at the heart of apple pie and the American Way. That's just my personal style as a rather hardbitten circuit hacker with no personal stake in any of these dingalings prevailing, whether they're "colluding cartels of infringers" or "litigating licensors". But if you think that, as a customer for computing hardware I'm interested in supporting the wholesale cooption of interface technology that preexisted the Rambus nonsense and in rather better implementation after billions of dollars and thousands of man hours have already been funded by the consumer to try to make their kludge-assed technological blind alley lead to some bright and shining future, you've got another think coming.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini
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