Jury gives Rambus satisfaction in SDRAM feud

Rambus went around trying to obtain royalties from memory makers for a few years in the early part of the decade, until it came under fire from the Federal Trade Commission during the summer of 2006. The FTC took issue with Rambus' alleged conduct of filing patents in secret while it was member of the Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council—the standards body that came up with SDRAM and DDR SDRAM memory technologies—then leaving JEDEC and suing manufacturers of SDRAM and DDR SDRAM memories for patent infringement.

In a surprising twist of events, News.com reports that a San Francisco jury ruled yesterday that Rambus' patent filings were neither fraudulent nor anti-competitive. Rambus was able to make its case to "several juries and appeals court judges" that it filed its patents before JEDEC held discussions to set SDRAM standards. Furthermore, Rambus claimed that JEDEC's disclosure policy "did not explicitly require" members to disclose their patents.

As the news site points out, this ruling is a considerable blow to DDR memory makers, who may now be forced to cough up royalties to Rambus in order to stay in business—at least, those who haven't given up and started already. Memory makers are already struggling because of free-falling memory prices, and research firm iSuppli worked out that global revenue for DRAM manufacturers shrunk 19% last year alone. Of course, the jury's decision is good news for Rambus, whose stock price climbed almost 40% when the news broke out.

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