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Rambus faces antitrust accusations

Hitachi strikes back by invoking Sherman Act

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Memory technology company Rambus received a blow to its plans Friday when Hitachi, which faces legal and US government action for alleged infringement of patents, fought back by invoking US antitrust legislation under the umbrella of the Sherman Act. Last week, Rambus stepped up its claims that Hitachi, a large manufacturer of semiconductor memories, was violating its patents by asking federal body the International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban imports of DRAMs which allegedly used one of its patents. At the same time, Rambus extended its legal attack by filing suit against console maker Sega. But on Friday, according to reports, Hitachi fought back by filing a separate action in a Delaware court, demanding that the Rambus action be dismissed. Hitachi claimed the patents in question, in any case, were common knowledge as they had been discussed in JEDEC standards forums. Hitachi also wants the case it initiated on Friday transferred to the Californian district court where Rambus made its allegations. According to Electronic Buyers' News, the Hitachi countersuit says: "Rambus has used its lawsuits to assert that [synchronous] products compatible with the JEDEC standards infringe Rambus patents, making Rambus technology the dominant, if not sole standard in the industry." This Hitachi claim broadens the case considerably. If Rambus won its case for alleged patent infringement against Hitachi, it is feasible that other semiconductor companies could also face similar action by the memory technology company. Last week, a report by investment brokerage Morgan Stanley said that Rambus shares were likely to hit the $500 mark because its technology would dominate the memory market. But many third parties in the PC industry, including a number of large semiconductor manufacturers, are reluctant to adopt Rambus technology because of its royalty licensing scheme and its current high price. ® Related Stories Morgan Stanley's vote for a $500 Rambus Rambus extends Hitachi legal action to Sega

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