Earlier this year Rambus won a staggering $307M USD
civil award against Hynix claiming the company infringed on its
intellectual property. Specifically, Rambus claimed that Hynix used
techniques for producing memory that were proprietary to Rambus. On
Friday morning, Judge Ronald Whyte of Northern District of California overturned
this award (PDF).
The latest statement from the court claimed "For the reasons set forth
below, plaintiffs' motion for a new trial on the issue of damages is GRANTED
unless Rambus files notice with the court within thirty (30) days of this order
accepting remittitur of the jury award to $133,584,129 for damages through
December 31, 2005."
The focal point for this overturn is due to discrepancies
of the actual amount of DRAM sales during the time period Hynix infringed on
Rambus IP. Rambus at this point may either accept the lesser award of
$133.6M USD or begin a new trial against Hynix.
Despite the interconnections between Hynix and Rambus, this slew of IP lawsuits
are not related to the price fixing sentencing from earlier this year where four Hynix executives were
given jail time. Within the past year every major DRAM manufacturer
has faced litigation from Rambus, with the exception of the company's primary
manufacturing partner Samsung. Rambus has also filed suits claiming that
all of the major DRAM providers artificially manipulated pricing on DRAM to hurt RDRAM
sales -- with fairly damning evidence on
the company website (PDF) -- again with the exception of Samsung. On
Friday 34 states filed anti-trust suits against most major DRAM providers claiming the companies
colluded to artificially inflate memory pricing, which is illegal in the US.
Once again, Samsung was absent from this volley of litigation as well.
More can be seen from the official Rambus Litigation Update
page. The company currently has twelve outstanding major cases to
quote: Due to its higher latency, it underperformed DDR in some cases, and its higher bandwidth didn't translate into performance gains worth the price premium