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Rambus wins big in monopoly ding-dong

But must still overturn FTC ruling

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Rambus won big in the courtroom today, with a jury deciding the company had properly obtained patents for technology later incorporated into fast memory chip standards. So it's not a cheating monopoly after all, as memory chip makers Hynix, Micron and Nanya had sought to establish in US District Court in San Jose, California.

The ruling could be a nice money earner for Rambus, which says the verdict should enable it to collect $133.6m in damages it won against Hynix in a jury trial in April 2006. Rambus also stands to collect from the memory chip makers, but obstacles remain in its way.

In a valedictory statement Rambus general counsel Tom Lavelle said the ruling should "put to rest a series of ongoing allegations Rambus has endured for many years. Our business is to license our revolutionary technology to the industry for fair compensation. We are pleased to have this decision behind us as we continue to engage with the industry to deliver compelling products to the market."

Not so fast, Tom. Micron already plans to appeal. "Micron believes that Rambus has engaged in a pattern of deception, destruction of evidence, false testimony and other improper activities designed to mislead and to extract unjust patent licensing fees and damages. We will continue to vigorously advance our claims that Rambus has engaged in a variety of illegal activities designed to injure Micron,” said Rod Lewis, Micron’s top lawyer.

And then there is the small matter of the 2006 Federal Trade Commission ruling that Rambus illegally engaged in monopolistic behaviour through patent ambush of JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council), the memory standard-setting body. Rambus is appealing that one and hopes for a verdict this summer.

And what about the European Commission? Last year, it entered the fray through a "statement of objection", accusing Rambus of patent ambush too. The Commission has been quiet on the matter since then, which could be ominous. ®

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