Nvidia and Rambus settle four-year memory patent dispute

By on February 8, 2012, 5:30 PM

In 2008, Rambus accused Nvidia of infringing upon 17 patents across six of their product lines. After four years of legal sparring, the companies have finally decided to resolve the matter privately. The newly struck deal will be valid for five years although no other details were given.

The agreement covers the use of Rambus patented innovations in a broad range of integrated circuit (IC) products offered by Nvidia. In addition, the two companies have settled all outstanding claims, including resolution of past use of Rambus’ patented innovations. The term of this agreement is five years; other details are confidential.

"This is an important license agreement as it settles our differences and allows us to move forward with Nvidia, the leader in visual and parallel computing," said Harold Hughes, president and chief executive officer at Rambus. "Looking forward, we have the opportunity to focus on developing innovative solutions in concert with our licensees to help bring compelling, innovative products to market."

Source: businesswire.com

Of the 17 patents in question, only two -- if my tally is correct -- were not dismissed by the International Trade Commission or dropped by Rambus itself. 

Three of those patents were collectively known as the Barth patents, an important trinity of intellectual property thought to be fundamental to the company's future. 

Leveraging its broadly licensed patents have net Rambus a healthy, sustainable income during the last several years. In 2009, license royalties accounted for 113 million dollars or 96% of the company's total revenue.

With little left to fight for, Rambus may have settled for much less than they had original asked for. However, neither company has been forthcoming about disclosing the value of their mutual settlement. The only details known are the deal lasts for five years.

Rambus has become a notoriously litigious company following RDRAM's failure to become a mainstream component of the computer industry between 2000 and 2003. RDRAM was a memory technology which focused on achieving greater memory bandwidth through high operating frequencies. It did so, however, at the cost of higher latencies, higher prices and increased heat generation. Eventually, DDR outpaced RDRAM and Rambus' contribution to the tech industry was quickly forgotten.




User Comments: 7

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aspleme said:

I think you've got the math a little messed up. The accusation was made in 2008, yet the resolution has been reached "After five years legal sparring" Given that it is only 2012, even if the accusation was bade in the beginning of 2008, only four years have passed.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

aspleme said:

I think you've got the math a little messed up. The accusation was made in 2008, yet the resolution has been reached "After five years legal sparring" Given that it is only 2012, even if the accusation was bade in the beginning of 2008, only four years have passed.

Thank you for that. It is much closer to 4 years. I have updated the article accordingly.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Leveraging its broadly licensed patents have net Rambus a healthy, sustainable income during the last several years. In 2009, license royalties accounted for 113 million dollars or 96% of the company's total revenue.

Wonder if they'll have to pay back a large chunk of that cause of all the invalidated ones?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They probably wanted both parties to look like winners, regardless of who lost what so they made the settlement confidential.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Rambus still had the opportunity to appeal the decisions. If Rambus's source of income is cut off due to the invalidated patents, what do they lose by doing so?

Simple economics might say to Nvidia that if the cost of renewing the patents (bound to be much less than before the judgement) are less than the cost of ongoing litigation with Rambus, then why not settle? The patents/settlement concern DDR3 (and presumeably DDR2), so this really only affects entry-level graphics and maybe legacy chipset support...both of which are rapidly heading the way of the Dodo....as is hopefully, Rambus itself.

aspleme said:

No problem. Easy enough mistake to make, especially since they made a five year agreement.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I am astonished to see that how many people abhor something new with out even trying it, perhaps it has something to do with 'fear of change'. Anyway, any UI as long as it allows users to customize itself according to their taste shouldn't pose any problems, e.g. I never really use 'Start' button, but I can create shortcuts according to my needs, hence, it never really get in my way either.

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