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Rambus cornered by Judge, Infineon

Left with almost no room to move

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Rambus vs Infineon Rambus may call it quits this after it emerged that its legal action against Infineon appears to have been limited to such a degree that the memory developer effectively has no room to manoeuvre.

Rambus' lawyers told the trial judge, Robert E Payne, that his Markman ruling, which governs the extent to which a patent may be said to have been infringed, would not allow them grounds to claim patent infringement.

At the centre of Rambus' problems lie the testimony of one Dr Huber, an expert witness for Rambus. The good doctor made an initial statement to the court during the pre-trial phase and followed it up with a second, addition statement after Judge Payne's Markman ruling.

At the time, Infineon's lawyers objected to the additional statement on the grounds that in it Huber radically changed his characterisation of Infineon's allegedly infringing products. Said the Judge: "Flip-flops are all right, I suppose, for those who are running for elected office. They are not much good for experts or anybody else."

Payne didn't disallow, however, Huber from testifying during the trial, joking that if he did so, Rambus' lawyers wouldn't have anything to do but make their opening statement.

In the event, while Huber did testify last week during the trial, his supplementary testimony was not permitted by the Judge to be included on the grounds that it overstepped the line drawn by the Markman ruling.

Which is exactly what Infineon expected, and why the chip maker's lawyers moved during the pre-trial phase for a summary judgement dismissing Rambus' action. On Friday, Infineon made that request again, but Judge Payne denied the move, saying that Rambus should have the weekend to ponder where it can take the case.

Certainly, its options seem limited, and it looks like it may choose to pursue the case through the Appeal Court by attempting to have the Markman limitations extended to allow Huber's secondary testimony to be included.

The snag is that Infineon has become rather fired up over its claims that Rambus misled both the US Patents and Trademarks Office and the JEDEC SDRAM standard-setting committee. It wants a ruling in its favour on all this in order to protect itself from future Rambus action.

Certainly, Infineon appears to have a case here for Rambus to answer, no matter how unnecessarily restrictive the Markman ruling may ultimately prove to be.

The case continues later today. ®

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