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Rambus gains breathing space in FTC ding-dong

Behaving like royalty

Rambus is keeping its license to print money from fast memory patents for just a little longer. The US memory chip designer today told the world that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has stayed some of its remedy order against the company - so long as Rambus files its appeal in a "timely" manner.

The FTC charges Rambus with hoodwinking the JEDEC industry standards group into approving memory technologies on which it secretly held patents. Through subterfuge, the company illegally gained a monopoly in four key memory technologies, the FTC found. By way of punishment last month, it slashed the maximum rates that Rambus could levy on patented memory sales, reducing the royalty to zero in over three years.

Rambus plans to appeal the FTC's liability and remedy.

In the meantime, the FTC's clarification of its antitrust remedy means that Rambus does not have to repay any royalties already collected, and that it can continue to levy charges at the old rates. Monies collected over and above the FTC remedy are to be put into an escrow account until the court of appeals makes up its mind on the matter.

Finally, Rambus has won confirmation that royalties on DDR2 SDRAM and other post-JEDEC standards are ring fenced from FTC action. ®

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