FTC strikes back at Rambus

The Federal Trade Commission has ruled that Rambus unlawfully monopolized the markets for four DRAM memory technologies. The ruling concerns Rambus' four-year JEDEC membership, during which the FTC asserts Rambus secretly patented technologies being developed by the standards body. Rambus subsequently filed a number of lawsuits against the memory industry, claiming that DDR and SDRAM memory technologies violated Rambus patents.
The Commission's unanimous opinion states, "We find that Rambus's course of conduct constituted deception under Section 5 of the FTC Act. Rambus's conduct was calculated to mislead JEDEC members by fostering the belief that Rambus neither had, nor was seeking, relevant patents that would be enforced against JEDEC-compliant products. . . . Under the circumstances, JEDEC members acted reasonably when they relied on Rambus's actions and omissions and adopted the SDRAM and DDR SDRAM standards."

"Through its successful strategy, Rambus was able to conceal its patents and patent applications until after the standards were adopted and the market was locked in," states the opinion. "Only then did Rambus reveal its patents – through patent infringement lawsuits against JEDEC members who practiced the standard."

The Commission's statement doesn't reveal what actions will be taken against Rambus, but it says the Commission's "broad remedial powers" will be exercised responsibly after more discussion. In response to the FTC ruling, Rambus Senior Legal Advisor John Danforth told eWeek it is "highly likely" that Rambus will appeal.
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