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Judge dismisses ‘dozens’ of Rambus allegations

All but three claims chucked out

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Rambus vs Infineon The US Court has chucked out 54 of Rambus' patent infringement claims against Infineon, leaving the chip maker to answer just three allegations.

Trial judge Robert E Payne ruled that Rambus had failed to prove that its single-rate and double data-rate SDRAM patents had been ripped off by Infineon. Rambus, he said, could not show exactly how Infineon's products infringed its patents.

For the Siemens spin-off the ruling got better: Payne said he would not find it guilty of wilfully infringing any of the remaining three allegations, even it was conclusively proved that violation of that intellectual property had taken place.

Judge Payne concurred with Rambus' claim that Infineon had seen and - presumably - been influenced by some of the memory developer's technology during negotiations between the two companies held between 1990 and 1991, around the time that Rambus filed its initial SDRAM patent.

However, he said, "there is a long leap to June 23, 2000, when Rambus next sent a letter to Infineon about its SDRAM patents", which were finally awarded much later after Rambus was forced to restate them at the behest of the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Payne dismissed Rambus' claims that Infineon had spent ten years intentionally trying rip off its work as a "leap of faith".

As expected, Infineon yesterday asked the Judge to dismiss all of Rambus' claims in a summary judgement, on the basis of the limitation placed on the plaintiff's case by the Judge's Markman ruling. The Markman ruling stated the case would be limited to SDRAM technology that used a multiplexed bus. Infineon's SDRAM and DDR chips don't.

Judge Payne will report on Thursday whether the trial will continue, to cover Rambus' remaining three patent claims. Infineon, which has yet to state its case, will presumably hope that he will. For a start, the Judge has already said it's safe from a verdict of wilful infringement. Secondly, it wants a chance to raise its own counter-allegation in court. Infineon claims Rambus dealt with patent and standards bodies fraudulently.

For its part, Rambus has to decide how to proceed. It has yet to comment on the ruling, but it's hard to see it taking the judgement lying down. It believes Judge Payne's Markman ruling to be too restrictive, and may ask the Appeal Court to broaden the case's scope. However, doing so risks exposing Rambus to Infineon's fraud allegations. ®

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