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Infineon win may axe Samsung's Rambus royalty

Handy clause in Samsung's DDR licence emerges

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Rambus vs Infineon Samsung, for one, may be eagerly looking forward to Infineon's success in its battle with Rambus.

As a Rambus licensee, you'd expect Samsung to be rallying for its technology partner. However, as EBN has spotted, Samsung stands to have its royalty payments slashed if Rambus loses its patent infringement case against Infineon.

A clause in Samsung's license states: "If a court determines that the [Rambus] patents have not been infringed in any geographic area, Samsung royalties will not apply in that geographic area."

Samsung currently pays a 3.5 per cent royalty on all DDR SDRAM parts it ships and 0.75 per cent on single-rate SDRAM - both figures made public through the Rambus vs Infineon trial.

The DDR figure has since been described as "very high" by analysts, most of whom had put the previously unknown royalty at 2-2.5 per cent.

Interestingly, a part of Rambus' argument against Infineon centred on how the latter's refusal to pay up was giving it an unfair competitive advantage over companies, including Samsung, who had signed up.

Samsung presumably can't simply stop paying up, since Rambus has said it will appeal against the US District Court's ruling that it has been unable to prove infringement on any of the 57 counts its submitted. However, the Korean giant will almost certainly be watching the outcome of the appeal very carefully.

As, we reckon, will other licensees. They may not have similar clauses in their licences, but we expect they will demand one now the Samsung clause is out in the open - especially if Rambus loses its appeal.

Rambus has a strong case to take the Appeal Court. It's foundation is that the trail judge restricted too tightly the parameters by which Rambus' claims would be measured in his Markman ruling. An interesting statistic is that around half of all Markman rulings are overturned at appeal. ®

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