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Introduction

  • For those of you who are new to Rambus, congratulations for reading this! But be warned - it is a very difficult story to follow. First, I would like to thank everbody who contributed to this introduction. It is an attempt to get you up-to-speed on what has happened since 1990 when Farmwald and Horowitz originally invented a new and novel way for computer memory to operate, and created this company called Rambus. Rambus is an Intellectual Property (IP) company, and their business model is to discover and patent new and faster ways to communicate in the semiconductor world and license their IP for a royalty fee to companies who fabricate semiconductor chips. Rambus doesn't make any products per se, but their engineers help other companies that fabricate new memory chips and interface chips. The IP Rambus created is used in a plethora of products... from Supercomputers, Sony's PlayStations (2 and 3), high definition TV's and DLP video projectors, network routers, hard disc drive connections, to, most importantly, computer main memory. Here is a link that discusses the history of the company. It was the opening statement of the first Richmond trial (Rambus vs Infineon, 2001).
  • In the early 1990's, after Rambus had signed nondisclosure agreements with almost every large Memory Manufacturer (MM), Rambus was invited to join JEDEC (an semiconductor industry organization which sets standards for the industry). The primary goal of the MM's for getting Rambus in JEDEC, was to get free access to this new and novel IP from Rambus by making it "public domain". JEDEC refused to allow Rambus to present their technology for standardization, and Rambus correctly refused to discuss their technology (which was patent pending) in an open forum, which would have allowed the MM's to claim it was public domain. However, Rambus had signed Non Disclosure Agreements with all the the major MM's individually, and had filed patents in the US and in Europe, so the MM's had intimate knowledge of the advanced technologies that Rambus had invented. They were doing whatever they could to get their hands on this intellectual property without paying Rambus royalties. In fact, have a look at the deadly menace memo written by Willi Meyer of Infineon (then part of Siemens) in 3/1994... where he said the following:

    "Rambus is not a memory, it is a memory system that includes, controller, bus, interface, protocol and memory. One day all computers will (have to) be built like this, hopefully without royalties going to Rambus."

    Also, included in the link above is a 9/1992 presentation by Willi Meyer where he discussed the option of using Rambus IP by making it "public domain".
  • When the MM's couldn't get Rambus to reveal their IP in a public forum in the open discussions at JEDEC, they denied they knew that Rambus owned the IP and wouldn't let Rambus present to JEDEC. The MM's simply set out to create a new standard that used features of Rambus IP in the standard (SDRAM). Rambus did not support efforts to use their IP in the new standard, in fact the only time they ever voted... Rambus voted against it. But Rambus saw various features of their IP being "cherry picked" by JEDEC in the SDRAM standard. The MM's knew exactly what they were doing and they fully attempted to hide behind the JEDEC standards organization. On the advice of legal counsel, Rambus was forced to withdraw from JEDEC. This was before any work by JEDEC on developing the new DDR standard (which uses even more Rambus IP than SDRAM) had started.
  • Rambus amended their patent claims which is totally legal in the US because they invented the IP in the first place. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled this to be perfectly legal. Rambus went to all the MM's and said "you are using our IP and we want license agreements on SDRAM and DDR because they are based on our Intellectual Property." Seven out of the top ten memory manufacturers agreed and signed licenses, including the largest manufacturer (Samsung). It's hard to believe Samsung would have signed if they didn't knew for sure they were infringing Rambus' patents. But three companies (Infineon, Micron, and Hynix who have been referred to in this case as the Three Amigos) developed a plot to fight little Rambus (at the time less than 100 employees) in court and litigate them to death. The thought process was that it would take years in court and the Three Amigos could financially bankrupt Rambus... eventually. The plot included using all their corporate political influence around the world to discredit Rambus. It also included a massive paid media campaign (sometimes called FUD - fear, uncertainty, doubt) to discredit Rambus. Many PC industry columnists such as Bert McComas, Sherry Garber, Jack Robertson appear to have been part of the scheme to print lies and half-truths in the trade journals about Rambus. This media campaign went on for over 5 years... and most of the people in the semiconductor industry eventually fell victim to the lies and came to believe that Rambus had somehow swindled JEDEC... when nothing could have been further from the truth.
  • However, Intel saw the advantages of the Rambus initial designs patents (called RDRAM) and decided to standardize on it for their new Pentium IV in early 2000. They used RDRAM in the Pentium III and Pentium IV, but the Pentium III architecture was not optimized for RDRAM, and in many cases SDRAM performed as well as RDRAM on the Pentium III's. It really wasn't until the Pentium IV with speeds over 2.2 MHz that RDRAM's performance features left DDR in the dust. Now the whole computer industry is primarily using DDR, when they could have been using much faster RDRAM.
  • When Intel announced that they would standardize on RDRAM, it created panic among the Three Amigos. They decided to continue their battle by pretending to go along with Intel's decision (in fact Micron even took $500 million from Intel to develop new Rambus RDRAM chips). However, behind the scenes, the Three Amigo's were doing all they could to sabotage RDRAM acceptance by Intel.
  • During the disclosure process in the FTC case, the whole story came out and the scheme has started to unravel. The Three Amigos had conspired to get RDRAM out of the PC main memory market by convincing Intel that the manufacturing costs of RDRAM were exorbitant, the manufacturing problems were not worth the trouble, and the supply of RDRAM would not meet demand (they have false production estimates). At the same time, they were telling Intel that DDR would be cheap and as good as RDRAM. As a result of this collusion by the Three Amigos, Intel was forced to abandon their position that RDRAM was the only memory for the Pentium IV.
  • In the meantime, the Three Amigos had been selling DDR at below their cost to lock in the standardization of PC main memory to DDR. However, once the PC manufacturers were locked into using DDR, the MM's started raising their prices... to almost triple what they had been charging. This brought comments of "cartel-like behavior" from Michael Dell and precipitated a DOJ investigation into price fixing. In our opinion, this DOJ investigation will eventually expose one of the biggest price fixing and antitrust conspiracies in the history of American business. As you can read in the legal time line below, by January 2006, Infineon, Hynix, Samsung and Elpida have all pled guilty to DRAM fixing and paid fines of $160 million, $185 million, $300 million and $84 million while sending executives to jail for prison times of several months. Micron seems to have been able to get amnesty, but one executive plead guilty to obstructing the price-fixing investigation.
  • It now appears that Micron used all their influence with the FTC (and their connections are well documented, see below) to get the FTC to bring antitrust charges against Rambus. When the case was heard and the facts came out... it was JEDEC and the Three Amigos who were embarrassed. The facts revealed that Rambus followed all the written rules in JEDEC, while most of the other companies ignored many of the rules. The facts also revealed many of the collusive activities of the Three Amigos.

Legal Timeline

  • First of all, I highly recommend the following newsletter in order to help you understand the legal issues better:
    Fred Hager: The Best Rambus Newsletter!
    This weekly investment letter has a virtually perfect track record of predicting all the legal outcomes in this highly complex litigation around Rambus. I don't know any serious Rambus investor who does not subscribe to Fred Hager.

    But let's start:
  • In June 2000, Hitachi settles with Rambus, RMBS share price closes at all-time high of $117.38 (06/23/2000).
  • From 06/27 - 07/15/2000, a flurry of emails between Hynix, Infineon and Micron on Joint Defense are sent.
  • On 07/16/2000, a Draft of the Joint Defense Agreement was created (entry #139).
  • On 07/17/2000, Jack Robertson reports "Rambus ties strained as Intel, DRAM makers ponder FTC antitrust suit".
  • On 08/08/2000, Rambus sues Infineon.
  • On 08/10/2000, Joint Defense agreement was signed (entry #141).
  • On 08/18/2000, Jack Robertson reports "Infineon won't be alone in fight against Rambus"
  • On 08/21/2000, Jack Robertson reports "McComas said he also expects Intel to allow third-party vendors to supply DDR chipsets for Penitum 4." "In order to avoid legal problems with its partner, Rambus Inc., Intel is likely not to officially license third-party DDR chipset suppliers, but simply to "look the other way" when the core-logic devices are rolled out, McComas said."
  • On 08/28/2000, Micron sues Rambus. The press reports. Please note that it was NOT Rambus sueing Micron!
  • Just one day (!) later, Hyundai (now Hynix) sues Rambus. (again, not vice-versa!)
  • On 10/09/2000, Hyundai was freed from DRAM tariff imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department.
  • On 11/17/2000, Micron "firmly believes that Rambus will remain a high-end, niche player", Micron CEO Appleton told EE Times, adding that "no customers have asked the memory maker to build RDRAM parts." However, Intel had given them $500M to produce RDRAM.
  • On 11/22/2000, Intel launches P4: Samsung increased quarterly RDRAM chips production by 20% while Infineon said "OEM customers can live off the amount of Direct RDRAM chips we produced for them this summer."
  • Also on 11/22/2000, Jack Robertson reports "Micron, Hyundai ask FTC to charge Rambus on antitrust violations"
  • In February 2001, the FTC starts investigating Rambus.
  • Also in February 2001, Intel confirms that they are "sticking with Rambus", but announces a DDR chipset for 2002. "We believe that RDRAM is the best solution when the memory costs are comparable" in a PC, Pete MacWilliams of Intel's desktop platforms group, told CNET News.com
  • In May 2001, Rambus loses the "should-have-been" infringement trial lead by Judge Payne in the District Court of Virginia against Infineon on a counter claim of Infineon. The jury found Rambus guilty of committing fraud. All infringement claims were thrown out prior to trial by Judge Payne on summary judgment (which was shown to be clear error by the CAFC later).
  • In June 2001, newly appointed FTC chairman Timothy Muris announces the appointment of Sean Royall to Deputy Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition. Royall had worked at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Los Angeles, which represents Micron. Later, he became the lead attorney in the FTC vs Rambus case that started in June 2002.
  • In June 2001, Joseph Simons gets appointed as Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition by Chairman Muris.
  • In August 2001, the FTC starts asking the Amigos about Rambus.
  • In September 2001, Intel and Rambus announce a Cross-License Agreement with Intel paying Rambus $10M per quarter over five years. "This broad agreement will help Intel continue to be a leader in providing high- performance chipsets," said Craig Barrett, Intel president and chief executive officer. "We also look forward to continued cooperation with Rambus in the further development of RDRAM-compatible chipsets and communications chips as well as the company's support of InfiniBand* and future initiatives."
  • In May 2002, the FTC stops short of confirming Rambus antitrust suit. Legal sources said the FTC had earlier wanted to proceed with an antitrust lawsuit against Rambus but has balked. According to one former FTC lawyer, making a case against Rambus has proven difficult because "the facts in the case are somewhat nebulous."
  • In June 2002, the FTC decides to bring their antitrust suit against Rambus. One week later, RMBS share price closes at all-time low of $3.33 (06/26/2002).
  • One day later, the Justice Department's Antitrust Division launches a federal grand jury investigation of the DRAM makers. "It sounds as if [the Justice Department] saw a spike in the DRAM prices and decided to take a look at it," said Mary Azcuenaga, an antitrust attorney and former Federal Trade Commissioner. "If they find evidence of price fixing, I expect them to be aggressive in pursuing a case" against DRAM makers.

    "Micron will cooperate in the investigation", a spokesman said, adding that the company "does not believe it has violated U.S. antitrust laws." The spokesman also emphasized the volatility of the DRAM market and recent historic low prices on the spot market.
  • In July 2002, the DRAMurai appear to be involved on merger talks.
  • In November 2002, Sean Royall, the Deputy Director of the FTC Bureau of Competition communicates with Rambus's attorney Steven Perry about Rambus's discovery efforts. Document has wrong time-order: You need to read first Exhibit B, then C, then A. Note that the first letter Exhibit B is referring to is not available.
  • On 01/08/2003, Rambus reply to Complaint Counsel's motion to limit discovery of collusion of the DRAMurai
  • On 01/15/2003, the FTC Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) James Timony rejects Rambus's request to allow discovery relating to the collusion evidence of the ongoing DOJ Grand Jury investigation of the DRAM manufacturers.
  • One day later, the FTC Complaint Counsel asked the ALJ to skip the trial and directly go to default judgment against Rambus! On p.116 on the pdf: Thus, this truly is a case in which "the guilty party has engaged in such a wholesale destruction" that "effective issue-related sanction[s]" cannot be fashioned or would "effectively dispose[] of the merits anyway." [citation] In other words, this truly is a case in which "the entry of a default judgment is the _only_ means of effectively sanctioning the defendant and remedying the wrong." [citation]
  • On 01/29/2003, the Federal Court of Appeals overturns the fraud verdict of the jury trial in Virginia under Judge Payne, issues a completely new claims construction and remands back to Virginia for re-trial on infringement. Here is the Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit (CAFC) decision by Judge Rader, which is now law as the US Supreme Court (SC) rejected to hear the case in October 2003.

    "In sum, the district court erred in its construction of each of the disputed terms. In light of the revised claim construction, this court vacates the grant of JMOL of noninfringement and remands for the district court to reconsider infringement."
    "In sum, substantial evidence does not support the jury's verdict that Rambus breached its duties under the EIA/JEDEC policy. Infineon did not show the first element of a Virginia fraud action and therefore did not prove fraud associated with the SDRAM standard. No reasonable jury could find otherwise. The district court erred in denying JMOL of no fraud on the SDRAM verdict. Because of these holdings, the new trial and injunction issues are moot."

    Read the statement of Royall regarding the CAFC decision.
  • A few days later, FTC Chief ALJ James Timony retires after 27 years as an FTC ALJ. Chairman Timothy Muris appointed Stephen McGuire to serve as new Chief ALJ. McGuire had adjudicated over 200 administrative cases at that time.
  • In March 2003, FTC Complaint Counsel tries to keep evidence of collusion out of the trial, by calling it "Irrelevant", "Immaterial to the issues in this case", "Needless consumption of time", "Confusion of issues", "Misleading", "Undue delay" and "Waste of time".
  • In July 2003, Joseph Simons resigns from the FTC.
  • In October 2003, Sean Royall suddenly leaves the FTC (note that the footer URL indicates an August date, probably when the release was first prepared). He returned to private practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Los Angeles.
  • Four days later, the US Supreme Court turns the CAFC decision into law by rejecting to hear the case.
  • In December 2003, the law clerk of Judge Payne, who worked on the Rambus case, suddenly gets elected partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in LA. That is the same law firm that Sean Royall, the former Deputy Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, went back to 2 months earlier.
  • On 12/17/2003, a Micron Executive agrees to plead guilty to obstructing a price-fixing investigation involving computer memory chips by the DOJ grand jury.
  • On 12/29/2003, Electronic Business News with prominent author Jack Robertson goes forever...
  • On 01/08/2004, Judge Payne learned that the damage claim in the Rambus vs Infineon trial is not about 3 million dollars, but in the neighborhood of a hundred million dollars. He seemed to be pretty unaware of that fact (p.19). [Note: I wonder how he thought that Rambus would spend around $5M a quarter on litigation cost for a total of $3M damage claims...]
  • On 02/11/2004, Farhad Tabrizi, former VP of world-wide memory marketing of Hynix, suddenly leaves Hynix. He was at the center of the DRAM makers long battle against Rambus Inc. At one point he served as chairman of the Sync Link Consortium, an early attempt to develop a rival DRAM standard to RDRAM. When Sync Link was overtaken by DDR, Tabrizi aggressively promoted the new double data rate standard. "Hynix is in a good position and I felt I could leave without causing any major impact."
  • On 02/12/2004, European Patent Office Technical Board of Appeal EPO revokes "RAMBUS" patent EP 0 525 068 on a "Semiconductor Memory Device", after having used about 9 years to grant it. Rambus repeatedly requested the written decision, which is available here
  • On 02/17/2004, the FTC Chief Administrative Law Judge Stephen McGuire issues his written Initial Decision (ID). It completely (100%) exonerates Rambus on over 340 pages. John Danforth of Rambus refers to it as a "seminal document". From the FTC ID:

    "Complaint Counsel have failed to sustain their burden of proof with respect all three of the violations alleged in the Complaint. A review of the three violations alleged in the Complaint shows that although Respondent is in possession of monopoly power in the relevant markets, Complaint Counsel have failed to demonstrate that Respondent engaged in a pattern of exclusionary, anticompetitive conduct which subverted an open standards process, or that Respondent utilized such conduct to capture an unlawful monopoly in the technology-related markets. Analyzing the challenged conduct under established principles of economics and antitrust law and utilizing the preponderance of evidence standard, Complaint Counsel have not proven the elements necessary to support a finding of liability."

    The FTC ID contains a lot of factual evidence about apparent collusion against Rambus (p.70ff), based for a later antitrust lawsuit filed by Rambus, here just 2 excerpts from the FTC ID:

    526. In September 1996, Hyundai executive and SyncLink Consortium chairman Farhad Tabrizi wrote an email that expressed a concern that "the real motive of Intel is to control DRAM manufacturers. . . ." According to Tabrizi, Intel' s actions would give it "control of DRAMs and other CPU makers. We will become a foundry for all Intel activities and Intel would like and desires to do business with us then we may get a small share of their total demand. " (RX 778 at 1). Tabrizi concluded his email stating: "I urge you to please educate others and get their agreement to say 'NO TO RAMBUS AN NO TO INTEL DOMINATION.'"
    553. Tabrizi admitted at trial that he had told Sang Park, then the President and Chief Operating Officer of Hyundai, that he wanted to "kill" Rambus and force RDRAM from the market. (Tabrizi, Tr. 9105-07). Tabrizi subsequently testified that what he meant by "killing Rambus was really just "Rambus suicide, (with) me watching on the sideline." (Tabrizi Tr. 9109). In his June 2000 email to Park, Tabrizi stated: " (i)f Intel does not invest in us, I really want to ask you to let me go back to my old mode of RDRAM killing. I think we were very close to achieving our goal until you said we are absolutely committed to this baby." (R 1661 at 2).
  • On 03/03/2004, in the remanded trial (Rambus vs Infineon) for infringement in Virginia, Judge Payne is cited on this transcript (p.34) as having said the following:
    "Well, you make sure this, Mr. Stone: If you have a motion for summary judgment on infringement, given the posture of this case and what I already know about the evidence in it, it better be good because I don't want to spend any time over something like that only to realize that it's really right back where we were with just a few little twists on it by virtue of the federal circuit's opinion. Maybe there's something there. Maybe there's not. But I don't really see that that would be a prudent move on your part."

    Remember that the CAFC/SC had said the following: "In sum, the district court erred in its construction of each of the disputed terms. In light of the revised claim construction, this court vacates the grant of JMOL of noninfringement and remands for the district court to reconsider infringement."
  • On 03/20/2004, Andrew Updegrove announces on his website that the FTC awarded an extension of the Appeal filing deadline. However, the FTC made their public statement of the extension only on 03/26/2004, backdated to 03/18/2004.
  • On 03/26/2004, Infineon's CEO quits after boardroom revolt. The press speculates on the reasons.
  • On 04/15/2004, Andrew Updegrove files a Amicus Curiae Brief in support of the FTC Complaint Counsel. Its conclusion: "Due to the profound and pervasive adverse effects anticipated from the Initial Decision in this matter as described above, amici curiae respectfully request that the Commission hold that the behavior of Rambus is in violation of applicable law."
  • On 04/16/2004, FTC Complaint Counsel files an appeal against the Initial Decision of Chief ALJ Stephen McGuire: "His Initial Decision is riddled with legal and factual error. The decision departs radically from the appropriate antitrust analysis."
    Read the FTC Complaint Counsel's Appeal Brief. Rambus filed a crossappeal.
  • On 04/15/2004, Amicus Curiae Brief in support of FTC Complaint Counsel is filed by Economics Professors and Scholars whose primary author is paid by Hynix (see footnote on page 4).
  • On 04/22/2004, Micron lawyers seem to have prepared the FTC Complaint Counsel document:
    Check the last page, the certificate of service: original version (April 22 2004) ... and... corrected version (May 14 2004)
  • On 05/05/2004, Rambus files an antitrust suit against each of the Three Amigos (and Siemens) at the Superior Court of the State of California, read the Civil Complaint. "We can't ignore the strength of this evidence," said Rambus general counsel John Danforth. "We have a fiduciary obligation to our shareholders to do something about this."
  • On 05/11/2004, FTC Chairman Timothy Muris announces his plans to leave the FTC this summer after 3 years of his 7-year appointment. Press reports: "It was not immediately clear why he decided to leave".

    Muris appears to get replaced by Deborah P. Majoras, deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, who has extensive experience in governmental investigations and price-fixing conspiracies. She went to the University of Virginia and currently works for Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. This law firm has been involved in the FTC case against Rambus and has experience in patent litigation.
  • On 05/19/2004, Dr. Harald Eggers, Head of Memory Products Business Group at Infineon, decides to leave the company at his own request. From 1996 to 2000, Seifert went on to lead the White Oak Semiconductor plant, Infineon's joint venture with Motorola in Richmond VA, USA, to success, gaining wide-ranging expertise in the memory products area in the process.
  • On 06/22/2004, Rambus files a writ for mandamus to get the CAFC to help them in court against Judge Payne, errh, Infineon. What a wonderful document!
  • On 07/20/2004, Infineon sets aside $263 millon for potential antitrust fines and ruines the quarterly results. Read the story.
  • Late July 2004, Judge Payne denies SJ on dismissal of Monopolization and 17200 counterclaims. It would be "manifest injustice" if he applied case law...
  • On 08/19/2004, the CAFC (Judges Prost and Linn) denies Rambus' petition for writ of mandamus on the piercing of Attorney-Client-Priviledges by Judge Payne. The dissenting Judge Gajarsa warns that "that ruling has no basis in the law, and is likely to have widespread negative consequences across the corporate world." However, the ruling was not declared precedential. Rambus requested an en banc rehearing and files another petition for writ of mandamus on 17200, Monopolization and Equitable Estoppel.
  • On 09/08/2004, the former FTC Chairman Timothy Muris joins O'Melveny & Myers, the law firm representing Hynix in the FTC case against Rambus. What a coincidence!
  • On 09/27/2004, the CAFC denies the en banc rehearing of the first writ.
  • On 09/16/2004, Infineon pleads guilty to federal "price-fixing" charge, and to "suppress and eliminate competition", read the plea agreement.
  • On 10/22/2004, the CAFC denies the second writ without a written opinion.
  • On 11/15/2004, Judge Whyte issues the Markman ruling. People begin to speculate on a summary judgement favorable to Rambus.
  • On 12/02/2004, four Infineon executives go to jail.
  • Have a look at a Rambus timeline slide
  • On 01/04/2005, Judge Whyte rules on the Motion for Summary Jugment, very favorably to Rambus: Hynix infringes29 claims by Rambus.
  • On 01/19/2005, Judge Whyte revised his ruling and decided that about half of the claims will be tried by a jury in the upcoming trial, since there are issues of fact involved in the term "read request" and some claims shouldn't even have been part of the Summary Jugdment. But still, there are a number of claims infringed by Summary Judgment!
  • On 03/21/2005, Rambus settles with Infineon for a measily $50 million, with a possible extension to another $100 million, if Rambus enters into additional agreements with certain other DRAM manufacturers. This settlement was basically done to get rid of Judge Payne, who didn't want to allow a patent trial on infringement to happen, but rather punish Rambus for alleged spoliation of documents, without further investigating the issue.
  • On 04/25/2005, the Inquirer starts writing about the price-fixing scheme and admits that Rambus was right all along, darn it.
  • On 05/23/2005, the FTC Commission Rejects in Part and Grants in Part Motion to Add to Rambus Record. Basically, they wanted to allow Payne's adverse decisions to save the face of the FTC. But don't expect any decision from the Commission anytime soon. Delay tactics.
  • On 06/07/2005, one day after Rambus brought a patent infringement suit against Samsung in California, Samsung brought suit against Rambus in Virginia. It asked for a judgment against Rambus based upon collateral estoppel of the spoliation that was found in the Infineon case, and that Rambus' claims of Samsung infringement should be nullified for the four patents that were involved in the Infineon suit.
  • On 06/15/2005, Rambus adds Samsung as a defendant in its Antitrust suit. Rambus is playing hardball.
  • On 09/27/2005, a few days after Judge Payne starts issuing adverse orders, Rambus wants to dismiss the Samsung case, as they fear that Judge Payne might just have another go-around at negatively affecting other proceedings.
  • On 10/13/2005, Samsung pleads guilty to price-fixing and pays $300 million fine to the DOJ. Rambus is not mentioned specifically, but people start to understand.
  • On 10/31/2005, people start to realize that the court of San Francisco has documents that might allow Rambus to make the Antitrust case an even bigger slam dunk. The news reports about Rambus and a Price-Fixing Tale.
  • 10/20/2005 (?) until 11/02, Hynix vs. Rambus: Part 1: Spoliation Trial. Observers of the trial notice that Hynix seeks end to Rambus lawsuit, since after two weeks of cross-examinations, no spoliation of Rambus documents was found. Even better, people in court laugh at Hynix' desperate hopes of a miracle.
  • On 11/08/2005, 02/23/2006 and 07/19/2006, Judge Payne rules that the Samsung case is exceptional and Rambus is guilty of spoliation. He basically says that he (by law) needs to issue a written ruling even though Rambus has withdrawn their case - just to mark a precedent!
  • On 11/29/2005, the connection between Samsung price-fixing and conspiracy against Rambus is made. New court documents show that Samsung screwed Rambus using price fixing.
  • On 01/03/2006, a great start of the year: Rambus signs a $75 million licensing deal with AMD, the once hated enemy of good old Intel. Now, they seem to be aware of the benefits an XDRAM interface could bring when combined with an Opteron CPU. Just like IBM and Sony noticed for their Cell processor design. While $75 million over 5 years might not sound like a lot, don't forget that the market share of AMD is relatively small. Besides, it's only for the patents, not for any particular design by Rambus. More deals are expected to follow.
  • On 01/04/2006, after-hours, Judge Whyte issues his ruling on spolation from the October trial. Rambus wins 100%. There was no spoliation, it's a complete victory for Rambus. Or, as the Judge puts it: "Here, the court does not find dismissal to be an appropriate sanction because it does not find the application of the unclean hands doctrine to be warranted. Further, the evidence presented does not bear out Hynix's allegations that Rambus adopted its Document Retention Policy in bad faith. The evidence also does not demonstrate that Rambus targeted any specific document or category of relevant documents with the intent to prevent production in a lawsuit such as the one initiated by Hynix. The evidence here does not show that Rambus destroyed specific, material documents prejudicial to Hynix's ability to defend against Rambus's patent claims. Therefore, Hynix's unclean hands defense fails."
  • On Friday 13, with the stock above $30, Rambus files new patent suit against Micron, after a Delaware court lifted a stay preventing Rambus from filing the suit earlier.
  • On 01/19/2006, Hynix asks for a re-trial or permission to appeal Judge Whyte's appeal-proof spoliation ruling... wishful thinking?
  • On 01/31/2006, price-fixing guilty-plea #4: Japanese Elpida Guilty of Price Fixing. Who would have thought that, ha!
  • On 03/01/2006, 4 Hynix executives Head For Jail in DRAM Scandal. Just a few hours later, The Honorable Judge Whyte issues his rulings on the motions in limine (jury instructions for the upcoming infringement and damages trial), vastly supporting Rambus' claims.
  • On 03/13/2006, the FIRST Infringement jury trial kicks off.
  • On 03/17/2006, IBM expands their Cell Broadband Engine-Based License with Rambus, after it indicated that it would base their future chip designs on the Cell chip.
  • On 03/22/2006, 3 Samsung executives Head to Jail.
  • On 03/30/2006, MarketWatch mentions rambus.org in an article called The Rambus rumble.
  • On 04/20/2006, Thursday noon PST, the jury decides that they won't render their decision before the weekend. A hedge fund gets to know this information and causes a brutal 35% selloff, fueled by stop losses and nervous investors. The stock went from $46.14 all the way down to $29.52 and back to close at $38.50 after word came out that the jury did not render a bad verdict.
  • On 04/24/2006, Monday, the jury decides that Rambus wins $306 million from Hynix. Here's the actual jury verdict form: 37 to 0!
  • However positive the verdict was, the nervous Rambus longs didn't have enough buying power to buy more shares, and since there was still no money flowing into Rambus' pockets and the markets had a tough time in general, caused by option scandals, the stock started to drift down.
  • On 05/30/2006, Rambus announced their own Stock Option Scandal. A day later, the stock trades around $25.
  • On 06/01/2006, The famous 12 e-mails" get into Rambus' hands. The press reports quickly that Micron, Hynix e-mails indicate price fixing.
  • On 07/05/2006, Rambus finally announced news. They extended an existing license deal with Toshiba on SDRAM and DDR SDRAM memory conrollers. The shares close at $22.77. A day later, Rambus also licenses Matsushita for the same memory controllers.
  • On 07/10/2006, Judge Whyte slashes Rambus damages award from the jury verdict in the recent Hynix case from $306.5 down to $113.6m. He basically reduced the award to 4.25% on DDR on US-sales without any punitive damages. This was 'Surprising And Very Negative', according to Forbes. Downgrades, class action lawsuits and dissappointing days followed for Rambus investors as reports emerged about 'significant expenses' to restate the earnings back to 2003. The stock drops to below $15.
  • On 08/02/2006, the FTC says Rambus unlawfully monopolized memory markets. The five politically appointed members of the FTC Commission decided unanimously that Rambus distorted the standard-setting process. They will decide on the remedy in the following months. This came four and a half years after their own Chief Administrative Law Judge had completely exoneratored Rambus on all counts after a month-long trial with dozends of witnesses and millions of documents. Doesn't matter of course, in the following days, the stock goes down to $12 after the largest individual shareholder, Stuart Steele, sells more than 6 million shares at once.
  • On 08/15/2006, Rambus ex-CEO Tate resigns from the board. He was the CEO and the sole member of the stock option committee during the time of the backdating...
  • On 08/16/2006, Rambus gets Nasdaq non-compliance notice and faces potential delisting.
  • On the same day, Rambus files an appeal against Judge Payne's "exceptional case" and spoliation findings in the Samsung case (that should have been dismissed already). In a most unusual case of legal posturing, Rambus recommended to the CAFC (Judge Rader) that their own appeal be denied because Judge Payne's declaration has no legal standing since it did not have jurisdiction for a case that no longer existed.
  • On 08/23/2006, Judge Whyte stays the Hynix case until the final FTC remedy ruling is out. Still, the shares surge. "The company said the court attributed the move to the potential for resolution of the case once the FTC sets royalty rates on the SDRAM and DDR SDRAM chip types and to give Hynix ninety days to establish the applicability of any FTC findings on the case."
  • On 11/15/2006, Thomas Lavelle replaces John Danforth as General Counsel, who stepped down in July. Danforth will remain at Rambus as Senior Legal Advisor and will focus on the antitrust cases.
  • On 01/03/2007, Qimonda signs up for Rambus licence. Nice start of the year - just like in 2006. Ten days later, Spansion takes a Rambus licence as well.
  • On 02/05/2007, The Federal Trade Commission Issues Remedy in Case against Rambus. Here is the actual order. It basically allows Rambus to collect for 95% of the DRAM memory market, both going forward and backward. A complete victory for Rambus, although called a "remedy". Here a diagram showing the actual impact of the ruling. Rambus shares jump 24% to $23.50 after the ruling came out. Of course, Rambus will still appeal the FTC "remedy" in order for it not to have collateral estoppel effects.
  • On 02/07/2007, The NASDAQ's Listing counsel decided that Rambus stock will remain listed for now.
  • On 03/19/2007, The FTC Commission granted Rambus' request for a Stay of portions of the remedy order. Now the appeal at an Appeals Court can follow and other cases should finally get going again.
  • On 04/04/2007, Rambus appeals the FTC "remedy" order. Even though the remedy order didn't really affect any royalties, it still hurt Rambus' ongoing business. Lots of additional paperwork and uncertainty caused potential customers to "just wait and see".
  • On 08/23/2007, The EU brings an antitrust case against Rambus. The Wall Street Journal reported that the EU alleges Rambus charged royalties that were over the odds for memory patents that became industry standards... I wonder why they would say that... and not complain about illegal price-fixing instead. Must be some political pressure.
  • On 09/07/2007, Rambus settles a class action suit related to its accounting for stock option grants by agreeing to pay $18 million.
  • On 09/14/2007, Rambus files fiscal 2006 financial statements and completes the first step in the option mess: Rambus recorded a $169.4 million noncash, pretax charge from 1997 from 2005.
  • On 10/17/2007 and over the following two weeks, Rambus regains Nasdaq compliance by filing all remaining 2007 financial statements. This marks the end of the option mess. Total cost: around $190 million, noncash (i.e. lost shareholder value). Thanks ex-Management...
  • On 11/15/2007, David J. Novak, of Virginia, is nominated to replace Judge Payne as District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia. Judge Payne may finally have retired! (He might still be handling pending cases though.)
  • On 01/29/2007, The "Phase 3" conduct phase in the case in front of Judge Whyte goes in front of a jury. I will determine whether Rambus' conduct at JEDEC was good enough to validate the royalties due to Rambus by Micron, Hynix, Nanya and Samsung on SDRAM and DDR DRAM. Later this year, extension to (G)DDR2,3,4 will follow up, hopefully on summary judgements by Judge Whyte as there are no JEDEC-related questions, it's all about patent technicalities that have already been decided.
  • On 01/30/2008, Rambus' stock jumps 20% on Bloomberg' frontpage story about a possible favorable outcome for Rambus in the Hynix DDR case. Pacific American Securities analyst Michael Cohen is cited as estimating a potential payout of up to $10 billion, based on 4.25 percent royalties and treble damages on past due royalties on all DDR flavors by all infringing companies. This would be the "best case" outcome of the case in front of Judge Whyte.
  • On 02/15/2008, Judge Kramer promised to issue a trial date for the antitrust case on April 15 2008. There's still hope that Rambus can present "dynamite" evidence later this year which would increase the pressure on the remaining Cartel members such as Micron, Hynix and Samsung.
  • On 3/31/2008, the jury in Judge Whyte's court decided after only a few hours, that Rambus's memory patents are legal and enforceable, and that Rambus had done nothing wrong at JEDEC. Here's the Jury Verdict Form. Richard Krisp is vindicated.
  • On 4/22/2008, the DC Court of Appeals beats up FTC over Rambus 'patent ambush' ruling, saying 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". The Appeal's court says that Once again, the Commission has taken an aggressive interpretation of rather weak evidence.
  • On 11/24/2008, Judge Whyte rules from the bench and grants Summary Judgment of Infringment of Claim 16 of the '295 patent. This means that DDR2, DDR3, gDDR2, GDDR3, GDDR4 are now infringing Rambus' patent as a matter of law.
  • On 01/09/2009, Judge Robinson Declares Rambus Patents in Suit Unenforceable in Micron Delaware Case, based on her need for "simplifying" the case in order to allow a jury to understand more easily... in this case, she thought that the hashest remedy was appropriate. There won't be a jury case at all! The stock drops from $18 to $10 within hours.
  • On 02/03/2009, Judge Whyte stays the Rambus case against the memory manufacturers, following Rambus' wish to get the Hynix case in front of the Appeal's court asap, in order to clean up the mess that Judge Robinson in Delaware created. Judge Whyte said "I wish I had ruled earlier". Obviously, he would have ruled in favorof Rambus. He needs to rule soon in order to allow quick resolution on appeal.
  • On 02/09/2009, Judge Robinson issues the final ruling, and allows Rambus to appeal quickly. Meantime, Judge Whyte is busy finalizing the Hynix case (part I+II+III) as fast as he can (sigh).
  • On 02/18/2009, the US Patent Office validates several important claims, most importantly the claim 33 in the 6,324,120 patent, confirming Summary Judgment of Infringement by Judge Whyte. The jury in JW's court had found it valid and enforceable as well. This claim is about precharging memory and is used in all kinds of DDRx memory products. It is almost impossible to invalidate this claim now which means that Rambus deserves to get paid royalties on DDR memory and all variations of it.
  • On 02/23/2009, the US Supreme Court affirms the DC Appeal's Court dismissing the FTC case against Rambus, ending the biggest case in the history of the FTC with a big embarrassment for the Commission. It remains to be seen whether the FTC will try to concoct another low-punch attack on remand. Hard to believe after what the Appeal's court said: Once again, the Commission has taken an aggressive interpretation of rather weak evidence.
  • Also on 02/23/2009, Judge Whyte Grants Rambus Supplemental Damages in Hynix Case and Orders Negotiation of Compulsory License. He refuses to issue an injunction and he gives the parties a chance to settle on proper royalty rates. But Hynix will have to pay Rambus roughly $400M for back-damages and around 4-5% on forward-going sales. There's no way around it anymore. It's rather ironic that Judge Whyte wants to keep the rates low though, saying that the patents have become "old" - No wonder after it took him over 8 years to finish the case!
  • On 03/03/2009, Judge Whyte rules in favor of Rambus on the conduct issues in the consolidated trial (Hynix III)
  • On 03/10/2009, Judge Whyte orders Hynix to pay $400M into Rambus' account and start paying 4.25% on DDRx memory! Rambus Wins the Patent Battle! Of course, Rambus might still be able to get compensated for non-US sales and wilfullness through the Antitrust case starting later this year. Hynix plans to appeal.
  • On 04/27/2009, Rambus Rallies after Judge Kramer in San Francisco rules that the AT trial is on schedule and that Judge Robinson's spoliation ruling won't affect the AT trial.
  • Also on 04/27/2009, Judge Whyte rules in favor of Rambus on the Samsung contract issues. Samsung can keep the Infineon rate for 3 months (Apr-Jun 05), but owes Rambus full royalties for DDRx from '05 to now. That's hundreds of millions in past royalties, before trebling. The press reports.
  • On 05/14/2009, the FTC drops the antitrust claims against Rambus!!!. Not even a slap on the wrist. What an incredible waste this case has been...
  • On 05/26/2009, Honorable Judge Whyte ordered Hynix to secure the amount it owes Rambus, namely to post a $250 million bond within 45 days and take the remaining $147 million as a lien against its manufacturing facilities in Korea.
  • On 06/12/2009, Rambus reaches a tentative settlement with E.U. Commission, capping the DRAM royalty rate at reasonable rates, allowing every company access to their patents.
  • On 11/24/2009, the EU accepts Rambus' antitrust proposal.
  • On 12/14/2009, Rambus pays $26M for Global Lighting technology, in an attempt to broaden it's patent portfolio. Contrary to a patent troll, they also hire the inventors of the patents...
  • On 1/13/2010, the long awaited Antitrust case in San Francisco is delayed again, at the last minute. Reason: A sick lawyer! Yeah right. Judge Kramer is starting to lose it.
  • On 1/19/2010, Rambus shares surge on settlement with Samsung, even though Ramubs settles for cheap, according to the gut feeling of many Rambus investors, including former legal counsel John Danforth. Let's hope Rambus knows more than we do.

Product Timeline

  • Go to the official Rambus homepage to see the Historical Timeline, which focuses mainly on product and licensing announcements.

Interesting Facts

Micron-FTC connections

  • J.R. Simplot is a wealthy Idaho financier, well known as Mr. Potato Head. He was one of the initial investors in Micron Technology. At the age of over 90 and after two decades of "putting in his time" for Micron, he retired from the board of directors in June 1999. In 2002, he still owned thousands of shares of Micron: see note 11 on page 4.

    Another family member, Don J. Simplot, retired from the Micron board of directors in April 2003.

    Below are some interesting sidenotes on the Boardroom behavior of the Simplots, taken from the following link:
    "...Founder, and CEO (at the time), Joe Parkinson believed J.R. Simplot was revealing insider information on Micron Technologies to friends and Wall Street. In February 1993, after an SEC investigation, Simplot had to sign an "indemnification" document stating that he would not disclose to anyone not employed by Micron any proprietary information about the company. In October 1993, Simplot sent a letter to the Wall Street Journal offering internal estimates on Micron's future earnings. Micron responded by issuing a press release attempting to discredit Simplot's letter.
    In September 1994, the clash of the board of directors reached a pinnacle when Parkinson received calls indicating that Simplot was again spreading insider financial information. A board meeting was called, where Parkinson asked Simplot if he was divulging insider information. Simplot said he didn't believe he was. Parkinson made a motion that Simplot not stand for reelection to the company's board. This motion was not seconded and Simplot reminded Parkinson of his controlling interest in over 20% of the Micron stock, which forced Parkinson and compatriots Chief Operating Officer, James Garrett and Reid Langrill, CFO, to all resigne. Steve Appleton stepped in to resume Parkinson's position..."

    Appleton is known as Micron's Comeback Kid.

    Now get this: Various members of the Simplot family paid their Congressman, CL "Butch" Otter, $237,371 in 2002 (this is approximately twice his Congressional salary): see here. There's more very interesting information on Otter here, a MUST READ.

    In 2001, Butch Otter owned a substantial stake in Micron as well: see here. Presumably these stem from his 30-year involvment with the Simplots, based on this excerpt from his own Congressional web site: "Professionally, Congressman Otter's business background includes membership on the Board of Directors of the J.R. Simplot Company. In addition he served as Director of the Food Products Division, President of Simplot Livestock, and President of Simplot International. Otter retired in 1993 after thirty years with the company."

    Now it turns out that Congressman Otter is on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which, apparently, is the House committee that has oversight of the FTC.
  • William Baer, the former Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition now works for Arnold & Porter, where he represents Micron in their litigation against Rambus.
  • Have a look at the FTC Post-Employment Ethics...

Judge "Rocket Docket" Payne - District Court of Virginia

  • Judge Payne has been an associate of McGuire Woods LLP in 1971-74, and partner from 1975-92.
  • Note McGuire Woods' company slogan: !

    Judge Payne pays a visit to his friends at a McGuire Woods LLP celebration event.
  • McGuire Woods LLP currently represents Infineon against Rambus in Judge Payne's court.
  • In December 2003, the law clerk of Judge Payne, who worked on the Rambus case, suddenly gets elected partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in LA. That is the same law firm that Sean Royall, the former Deputy Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, went back to 2 months earlier.
  • Early on in the Infineon trial, for no detailed reason given, Payne denied Rambus' attempt to compel T. Rudd Corwin to testify. Well, now we know why: "The Hynix executives are the second wave of individuals to agree to prison sentences in the DRAM investigation. In December 2004, four Infineon executives, T. Rudd Corwin, Peter Schaefer, Gunter Hefner, and Heinrich Florian, pleaded guilty to the DRAM price-fixing conspiracy. The Infineon employees served jail terms ranging from four to six months and each paid a $250,000 fine"
  • Rate Judge Payne here!

Interesting Decision of Micron not to produce RDRAM (Thanks to SWYZR191!)

Interesting Timing on Infineon expansion plans in Virginia

The Amigos Trying to Influence the Press

  • From the FTC evidence: ''Jeff Mailloux, a senior Micron executive, subsequently wrote Farhad Tabrizi, his counterpart at Hyundai (now Hynix), stating, "I am tired of Intel or Rambus giving my customers cost estimates, so we called Anthony [Cataldo, author of an article in EE Times] and I talked to him for about an hour and gave him Micron's story on it and encouraged him to call other suppliers. In short I told him that at any density, and any process that is available in 1999, RDRAM is at least 30% cost adder for Micron. Just giving you a heads up and would encourage you to call him and give Hyundai's view on it." The email continued: "Here is what I basically told him, if you forward the article to anybody else, remove this part." After summarizing this conversation, Mailloux concluded his e-mail stating: "Anyhow, please visit me if I end up in jail, but felt it was important and timely enough to get our message out there that 5% is not realistic in our opinion."''
  • Resulting article from EE Times, authored by Anthony Cataldo in January 1999

Cartel was using Intel? Thanks to stk_hawk!

  • Was Intel driving ADT? - p1
    by: stk_hawk
    02/26/05 05:13 pm
    Msg: 745400 of 745605

    It seems to be a widely accepted fact by many that Intel was driving ADT but is that really true? If not, where did that notion come from?

    Well reports like this probably had some influence:

    Rambus to rivals: you need us
    02/14/2000 By Jack Robertson
    Created earlier this year at the urging of Intel Corp., the alliance hopes to field a low-cost PC main memory for the 2003 market. While a number of leading DRAM vendors were asked to join the committee, Rambus, whose Direct Rambus DRAM architecture is now making its way into high-end PCs, did not receive an invitation... The ADT alliance, which consists of Hyundai MicroElectronics, Infineon Technologies, Intel, Micron Technology, NEC, and Samsung Electronics, stated previously that it's focusing on high-volume, low-cost PCs and handheld information appliances.
    http://www.my-esm.com/story/OEG20000214S0005

    Rambus ties strained as Intel, DRAM makers ponder FTC antitrust suit
    July 17, 2000 by Jack Robertson
    Intel Corp. and several major DRAM makers held talks last week to consider whether to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Rambus Inc. on antitrust grounds, according to industry sources. The FTC action is being considered by the Intel-led Advanced DRAM Technology (ADT) alliance, which met last week in Silicon Valley. The group-whose other members include Hyundai MicroElectronics, Infineon Technologies, Micron Technology, NEC, and Samsung Electronics-is expected to reach a decision in 30 days. In addition to the antitrust complaint, the ADT panel is said to be considering a civil suit in an effort to have Rambus' synchronous-memory patents declared invalid.
    http://www.us.design-reuse.com/news/news1431.html


    I find it very interesting that Jack just can't seem to report on ADT without putting forth the notion that Intel was leading the ADT effort, or without taking a jab at Rambus simultaneously. If there was a DRAM cartel that was out to "Kill Rambus" as I believe there was, what better propaganda tool than to have the press making statements that Intel was not happy with Rambus or RDRAM?

    So what did Intel do when they saw ADT reports surfacing that they were leading ADT? Well one thing they did was to "officially" go on the record and state the following:


    Intel, memory makers form DRAM alliance
    January 19, 2000 By Dan Neel
    Five memory chip makers, which between them account for more than 80 percent of the global dynamic memory market, aligned with Intel this week to cooperatively develop the next generation of Advanced DRAM Technology (ADT), according to Intel officials... "Intel is not taking the lead here," stressed one Intel representative. "Each of the five companies in the alliance are working together, making research investments and sharing information."
    http://www.infoworld.com/articles/pi/xml/00/01/19/000119pidram.html
    So what did Intel do when it got obvious they were being used as a patsy for ADT? They got the hell out!


    Infineon won't be alone in fight against Rambus
    08/18/2000 By Jack Robertson
    In addition to the ad hoc group's activities, the industry's Advanced DRAM Technology alliance has pondered filing an antitrust complaint against Rambus with the Federal Trade Commission. The charge would be similar to the now-dropped Hitachi defense that Rambus used data obtained from the open-standards deliberations of the Joint Electronic Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) as the basis for its patents. Hitachi claimed, as will the alliance if it does file with the FTC, that Rambus is now attempting to use those patents to restrain trade by charging high licensing fees on single-data-rate and double-data-rate SDRAM, putting competitors at a disadvantage vis-a-vis Direct Rambus DRAM. The alliance, however, apparently has one major defector-Intel Corp., which quit the discussions after initial reports appeared in EBN. Pat Gelsinger, vice president and chief technology officer of the Intel architecture group and the company's representative at the alliance meetings, blamed several DRAM members-including Hyundai, Infineon, Micron, NEC, and Samsung-for leaking reports that Intel was participating in the discussions.
    "see here"

    So this all leads to the real question, who was really driving ADT and what was the real motive behind ADT? In my opinion, I think the answer to that question is fairly obvious after reading all the propaganda but one thing is for sure, Hynix has fought tooth and nail to keep Rambus from learning who the actual members were that signed the JRA agreement. Fortunately, Judge Ambler has ruled that the JRA agreements cannot be protected under the guise of ACP.



    "The motion to compel Hynix to produce the joint representation agreements is GRANTED".

People involved in the Rambus saga who have left the scene

CAFC Decicison Summary (thanks to JA/TMF)

  • The CAFC decision was made on January 29th, 2003.
  • In April 1990 Rambus filed U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 07/510,898 with claims directed towards DRAM. The PTO determined the application covered more than one patent. As a response, Rambus filed numerous divisional and continuation applications of which at least thirty-one (31) were issued.
  • In April 1991, Rambus filed a patent application under the Patent cooperation Treaty (WIPO application) claiming priority to the '898 application.
  • In December 1991, Rambus attended a JEDEC meeting as a guest. Rambus officially joined JEDEC in February 1992.
  • By 1993, the EIA/JEDEC patent policy required members to disclose patents and patent application "related to" the standardization work of the JC-42.3 committee.
  • During Rambus's membership on committee JD-42.3 JEDEC adopted a standard for SDRAM which included four technologies:

    1. Programmable CAS latency
    2. Programmable burst length
    3. Externallly supplied reference voltage
    4. Two-bank designs
  • JEDEC published its SDRAM standard in early 1993 and has since published several revisions of the standard.
  • Rambus attended its last JEDEC meeting in December 1995, and officially withdrew from JEDEC in June 1996. In December 1996, JEDEC began work on a standard for DDR-SDRAM, the successor to SDRAM.
  • The JEDEC DDR-SDRAM standard ultimately incorporated four technologies that had been discussed in general before Rambus's withdrawal in 1996. Those technologies include:

    1. Source-synchronous clocking
    2. Low-voltage swing signaling
    3. Dual clock edge
    4. On-chip phase locked loop/delay (PLL/DLL)
  • JEDEC adopted and published the DDR-SDRAM standard in 2000.
  • In September 1993, Rambus disclosed its first issued RDRAM patent, No. 4,243,703, a divisional of the '898 application to JEDEC during a committee meeting. As a divisional, the written description of the '703 patent is substantially identical to that of the '898 application.
  • At the same meeting, another JEDEC member also disclosed Rambus's WIPO application to the committee. Rambus did not disclose any patent applications to JEDEC.
  • After leaving JEDEC Rambus filed more divisional and continuation applications based on the '898 application. Four of the patents that issued from those applications were at issue in the CAFC case, to-wit: the '804, '263, '918 and '214 patents. Rambus filed the applications that ripened into these four patents between February 1997 and 1999. Note: The written descriptions of each of these four patents is substantially identical to that of the '703 patent and'898 application.
  • As held by the CAFC, the JEDEC language of its disclosure policies did not impose any direct duty on its members to disclose patents or applications. And there was no indication that the members ever legally agreed to disclose information.
  • The CAFC found that even assuming a duty to disclose, that the disclosure applied only to patents and application claims "related to" the standardization work of the JC-42.3 committee.
  • The CAFC further found that any disclousre duty would be triggered only when work formally began on a proposed standard. It found that the assumed disclosure policy requires disclosure of certain "patents or pending patents"-- not disclosure of a member's intentions to file or amend patent applications.
  • Because the patents-in-suit in the CAFC appeal were filed after Rambus left JEDEC in 1996, there was no fraud or violation of JEDEC disclosure policy.
  • The CAFC reviewed all 209 claims in the '898 application. The court determined there was no substantial evidence to support a holding that the '898 application had claims that would reasonably be needed to practice the SDRAM standard.
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