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US court beats up FTC over Rambus 'patent ambush' ruling

Back to the Monopoly board for new game

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Rambus, the fast memory designer, has won its appeal to overturn a 2004 Federal Trade Commission anti-trust ruling.

The DC Court of Appeals today decided that the FTC had not established that Rambus had harmed the competition and "therefore that the Commission failed to demonstrate that Rambus' conduct was exclusionary and thus to establish its claim that Rambus unlawfully monopolized the relevant markets".

Now for the obligatory quote from Tom Lavelle, Rambus's top lawyer.

We are very pleased with this decision by the DC Court of Appeals. As we have contended all along, Rambus did nothing wrong during its participation in the JEDEC standard-setting organization, and now the Court of Appeals has confirmed our point of view.

Rambus has had to endure years of uncertainty, lost business and enormous legal fees defending this case, and we are thrilled to have this portion behind us. This decision, especially combined with the jury verdict in March reaching the same conclusion, should put the issue to rest and allow us to focus on running our business.

It will take a while for the dust to settle and for Rambus to pick up all the royalties it thinks it is owed.

The FTC can return to the fray, but only in a way that conforms to today's Court decision. And Micron, America's last DRAM chip maker, is to appeal last month's Rambus anti-trust court victory, which confirmed that it had properly obtained patents for fast DRAM technology, which were later incorporated into JEDEC industry standards. Memory chip makers had accused Rambus of hoodwinking JEDEC so that it could levy patent royalties.

Also, the European Commission is also investigating Rambus for patent ambush. The EC has been quiet on the matter since it announced its formal statement of objection in August last year. Which may or may not be a good thing for Rambus. ®

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