How to win friends and influence people is patently (sic) a book one is unlikely to find on the shelves of Rambus Inc.
Not content with threatening every memory maker on the planet with the wrath of its monstro legal department, the outfit is now warning chipset makers that they're next.
Once Rambus has assimilated the last remaining memory makers resisting its campaign to collect royalties on SDRAM and DDR memory, its drones will turn their attention to chipset makers, including occasional best pal Intel.
The Rambus collective now wants everyone to pay royalties on any device that interfaces with an SDRAM, DDR or direct Rambus DRAM (RDRAM) chip. Avo Kanadjian, vice president of worldwide marketing at Rambus, expounded on the latest plans for world domination at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas last week.
"We still have to license other controller manufacturers," he told Electronic News. "We are hoping that over time our category of licensees will grow bigger. All controller manufacturers also need to be licensed."
Rambus is currently exchanging phaser blasts with Micron, Hyundai Electronics and Infineon, who don't want to pay royalties on SDRAM and DDR. Rambus is accused of keeping its patents on SDRAM secret whilst attending meetings intended to establish an open industry standard. Samsung and Elpida gave up the struggle recently and were assimilated.
Rambus' voracious appetite for royalties could extend to ASICS, programmable logic and graphics chips, observed Jim Handy, chief analyst at Dataquest.
"If Rambus' patents hold, then they are going to have a reason to collect royalties not only from anybody who manufactures SDRAM, DDR or RDRAM, but also anybody who makes a controller or ASIC that talks to one of those chips," Handy said.
"That's a pretty big part of the semiconductor market. There are an awful lot of people that need to look at what Rambus has got and what they want to do about it. Rambus has warned everybody that everybody is within their reach."
But Bert McComas, principal analyst at InQuest Market Research, warns that Rambus could stumble in its haste to sue the butts off world+dog:
"The more lawsuits they take on, the higher the probability that somebody will fight it successfully," McComas said. "They are looking at every conceivable context for a lawsuit. In doing so they are going to test every conceivable argument, and if four or five arguments are lined up, it's highly possible that they will lose one."
"I think that a lot of comments we have read in the press recently may have got 'Rambus' and 'RDRAM' mixed up," whinged Kanadjian. "Some people are using them interchangeably."
Remember: RDRAM is a type of memory, Rambus Inc is just a bunch of lawyers - got that? ®
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