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Rambus' patent evidence-shredding slices into Hynix DRAM payout

Judge reckons royalty rate too generous

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A US judge has ruled that legal attack dog Rambus destroyed evidence prior to its patent lawsuit against SK Hynix - but decided the paper-shredding wasn't a deliberate attempt to derail Hynix's defence.

Judge Ronald Whyte reduced the royalties that Hynix owes on memory chips to just "reasonable non-discriminatory" levels. The South Korean chip biz originally agreed to fork out $397m to Rambus for infringing its DDR SDRAM and SDR SDRAM patents, but this sum could now be slashed.

"The sanction most commensurate with Rambus' conduct, and which addresses the above concerns, is to strike from the record evidence supporting a royalty in excess of a reasonable non-discriminatory royalty," the beak wrote in his ruling.

"Such a remedy recognises that Rambus' patents have been determined to be valid while at the same time recognising that Rambus' spoliation of evidence should preclude it from entitlement to a royalty that places Hynix at a competitive disadvantage."

Both parties now have to tell the court what they think that reasonable rate should be.

“This is a positive result as it is consistent with what we’ve been seeking all along - reasonable compensation for the use of our patented inventions,” Thomas Lavelle, Rambus' general counsel, said in a canned statement.

"We appreciate the court’s extensive efforts in working through years of complex arguments. While this decision does not provide SK Hynix with a going-forward licence, we are hopeful it will lead to putting this matter behind us completely and allow us to reach reasonable agreements."

The courts had earlier decided in favour of Rambus, but the case was punted back into Judge Whyte's court when Hynix appealed and called foul on Rambus' shredding of 300 boxes of documents. ®

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