Rambus loses $4 billion antitrust lawsuit against Micron, Hynix

By on November 17, 2011, 6:30 PM

Rambus was dealt a major defeat on Wednesday as a San Francisco jury rejected its claims in a $4 billion antitrust lawsuit against Micron Technology and Hynix Semiconductor. The IP licensing company, which has become widely known for its litigious ways, lost more than 60% of its market value following the ruling amid investors' fears that the company wouldn't be able to sustain its business model.

The case revolved around allegations that Micron, Hynix and others had engaged in price-fixing to keep Rambus' RDRAM memory technology from gaining widespread adoption.

Intel briefly used the technology with the Pentium III and 820 chipset, as well as with the Pentium 4 and 850 chipset, but the partnership didn't evolve as hoped. According to Rambus, Micron and Hynix conspired to ensure that Rambus memory would be more expensive, and thus a less attractive option to OEMs. However, the defendants maintained that it was "design flaws, higher manufacturing costs and other drawbacks associated with RDRAM along with Rambus' business practices" that prevented RDRAM from succeeding.

The court found that Micron and Hynix were not guilty of price fixing or anticompetitive behavior, in a 9 to 3 vote. Rambus CEO Harold Hughes said in an e-mailed statement: "We do not agree with several rulings that affected how this case was presented to the jury and we are reviewing our options for appeal."

This is not the first major defeat for the Silicon Valley semiconductor designer this year. Back in September the U.S. Patent and Trademark office declared that two of Rambus' patents -- known as the Barth I patents -- were invalid, with a decision on the third patent still pending. The company had used these particular patents to win memory-related lawsuits against Nvidia, HP and other companies.

In 2009 the company got about 96% of its $113 million in revenue from patent licensing royalties, and in January 2010 it reached a milestone settlement with Samsung for around $900 million. Following yesterday's nosedive the company's stock price has bounced back more than 20% to $8.78 as of this writing.

User Comments: 7

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spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Rambus was awesome at the time. 400MHz! Lol... anyway. Anyway, they should have invested more in R&D instead of attorneys.

Guest said:

Patent trolls deserve to die. Money should be earned by making a superior product, and when you have that, you win. How many times did Apple have to prove that? Despite higher prices, better products win out.

You can't lose a hardware battle, then go whining to a court and expect to get something useful out of it. Rambus is stupid, and investors that place their bets on patent trolls are stupid too. Invest in innovators! Not trolls!

Guest said:

I still have a Dell-- circa 2000 with Rambus memory. It is faster than a newer dual core system.

The Rambus memory was/is fast.

I upgraded to WIN7 and it is surprising fast, for old chi[p technology.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:


Rambus don't do R&D, what Rambus generally do is buy up IP as well as combine elements of the hard work of others (inc open source) into an overarching umbrella patent for themselves.

Three down, hopefully to be followed by the Nvidia suit,....and of Rambus's 300 employees, approximately 298 lawyers unemployed. Good times.

Guest said:

Another patent troll falls flat on its face. Crapple, you're next!

Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

"lost more than 60% of its market value following the ruling amid investors' fears that the company wouldn't be able to sustain its business model"

So you mean suing everyone+dog is not a sustainable busines model?

MPAA, RIAA et all, please have a look at this company

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Ah RAMBUS, another dead end technology stream I invested in. By the time I was looking to upgrade my RAM, they stopped making them, and the upgrade costs were prohibitive.

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