Rambus, the disgraced fast memory chip designer, is whiter than white after all. A Federal appeal court has overturned an earlier verdict that the company had committed fraud in seeking royalties from Infineon for patents relating to DDR SDRAM.
And it says the trials court was mistaken in its verdict that Rambus did not have a valid patent infringement claims against Infineon. Most crucially, the Appeals court ruled "substantial evidence does not support the implicit jury finding that Rambus breached the relevant disclosure duty during its participation in the (JEDEC) standards committee."
Upshot: the case is pinged back to the junior court for a retrial. The damages awarded against Rambus and an injunction in place against the company are now removed. The Appeal Court's ruling is here. And Rambus's press release is here.
What an astonishing turnaround. If Rambus can persuade the US judicial system that it conformed to JEDEC rules it stands to make a fortune. *
The company still has many more sessions in court to face, as well as the formidable Federal Trade Commission. It will be interesting to see, in the light of the appeal verdict, if the FTC revises its opinion that Rambus "deliberately engag(ed) in a pattern of anticompetitive acts and practices that served to deceive an industry-wide standard-setting organization, resulting in adverse effects on competition and consumers".
In an earlier version of this article we wrote that Rambus had submitted technology for inclusion
in DDR. This was a slip of the brain on our part for which we are truly, madly deeply sorry.
Below is the correct state of play, supplied by reader Rick Nielsen.
Rambus was not a member of JEDEC at any point in
time during DDR standardization. Quoting from the
Appeals court opinion, "Rambus attended its last
JEDEC meeting on December 6, 1995, and formally
withdrew from JEDEC by a letter dated June 17, 1996.
JEDEC did not begin formal work on the DDR-SDRAM
standard until December 1996. JEDEC adopted and
published the DDR-SDRAM standard in 2000."
The features of DLL, PLL, and differential signaling,
were included into the DDR standard after Rambus left
JEDEC. These are some of the same technologies used by
RDRAM and described in Rambus' WIPO patent application
which was disclosed to JEDEC in 1991. ®