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Crime fraud element enters Rambus case

Meanwhile, Matsushita domino falls

A flurry of public pre-trial documents in the up-and-coming case of Rambus versus Infineon has revealed that both parties are now arguing over whether crime-fraud exceptions can be made in evidence.

In a deposition filed on the 7th of March and now available as Docket 164 on the Rambusite pages, Robert E Payne, the judge in the jury case, which starts on the 20th of March in Richmond, Virginia*, set aside a Rambus claim for summary judgement, and, further, allowed Infineon to depose a number of people including Geoff Tate and Neil Steinberg in the case concerning licensing terms.

But, in an unexpected and startling move, the judge also announced that the "attorney-client privilege has been forfeited under the crime-fraud exception as to certain topics, and therefore the Defendants may conduct depositions of Messrs Diepenbrock, Vincent, Crisp, Mitchell and Tate respecting the legal advice provided about disclosures of patents and patent applications to JEDEC by Rambus Inc, the disclosure policy of JEDEC and about the efforts by Rambus, Inc. to broaden its patents to cover matters pertaining to the JEDEC standards."

This means allegations of improper conduct now seem to be an element in the trial.

Neil Steinberg and Geoff Tate gave presentations for Rambus at the September 2000 shareholder meeting, a meeting which caused some controversy, which we reported at the time.

Crisp, that is Richard Crisp, did not work for Rambus in September, but as we reported earlier this week, was working for Rambus as late as last June, and was associated with the firm, despite another deposition Rambus made to the Virginian court in which it stated he had "no association with Rambus" since 1996.

The judge also allowed the defendants to depose Steinberg in regard to a September 2000 presentation made to shareholders, financial analysts and others, as well as allowing Infineon to depose Diepenbrock and Vincent on letters withdrawing from JEDEC and the drafting of patent disclosures to this industry body.

The slides of the September 2000 presentation can also be found on the Rambusite, here.

Although Rambus immediately filed another deposition with the judge asking for a stay of these parts of the order, which he granted, this does not mean that such stay will be stayed forever. He's thinking about it and asking both parties to re-submit. The linen may, if the case goes to trial, may then be aired in public.

The significance of the March 7th order means the judge must, on the 6th of March, have thought there was a case, on the face of it, to allow Infineon to drag the "crime fraud" element into the up and coming trial.

Further written corroboration of our earlier story about Richard Crisp's employment by Rambus has come from a number of journalists and analysts, some now working for far loftier titles than your humble Register, who also discussed memory matters with the then executive of the company at the Computex show in Taiwan last June.

The mystery of why Rambus said Crisp has not worked for them since 1996 awaits resolution and reply.

Meanwhile, another of the Dramurai dominoes, mighty Matsushita, said it has signed a licence agreement with Rambus for SDRAM and DDR controllers. Like others, it will pay royalty rates for these controllers far greater than it would for proprietary Rambus RDRAM. The payments will be backdated to 1st October 2000. ®

*Reg FactoID 133MHz
Famous runners and riders of our time can be found on this page. They include Clint Eastwood and Midnight, Doris Day and Dollar, James Drury and Joe in The Virginian, Ronald Reagan and Sinbad the Sailor -- but surprisingly, notCraig Barrett and his nag Pentium in the film Goodbye, Mr Chips. Yeehah.

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