USPTO declares key Rambus patents invalid

Rambus has had a good run filing lawsuits against just about anyone and everyone associated with the memory business. Now, the company’s capacity for legal instigation may be in jeopardy. Reuters reports that the U.S. Patent and Trademark office has declared that two of Rambus’ patents—known as the Barth I patents—are invalid. A decision on a third patent is due within months.

Two patents may not sound like much, but Reuters says Rambus used these particular patents to win suits against Nvidia, HP, and other companies. Nvidia was sued over the memory controllers built into its graphics processors, and like many other targets of Rambus’ litigative ire, it ended up settling out of court. (I don’t recall the settlement sum being disclosed.)

Rambus intends to appeal; it sent out a statement saying, “We are confident in the validity of our patents and are exploring our next steps to seek reversal of these decisions.” Quite conveniently for the firm, filing an appeal will have the effect of upholding the validity of the two patents the USPTO declared invalid, according to Reuters.

Comments closed
    • ShadowTiger
    • 8 years ago

    I don’t know why everyone is complaining. Congress just passed a bill that reforms the patent system. Everything is solved now.

    Ah ha ha ha… I crack myself up…

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Obama will save us with a veto.

        • ShadowTiger
        • 8 years ago

        Another good joke 🙂

    • Farting Bob
    • 8 years ago

    If these patents are the reason they sued successfully all those companies, and that patent is now declared invalid does that mean they have to repay the settlement costs and court fees that Nv and others incurred due to Rambus’s false patent?

    • cybot_x1024
    • 8 years ago

    I guess USPTO just got on their “To Sue List”

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      LMFAO!

    • HighTech4US2
    • 8 years ago

    That Nvidia press release is from Jan 22, 2010 – NOT from Today!!!

    • Scrotos
    • 8 years ago

    I used to be high on the Rambus hate, too, until I read more about what happened and that they did actually get screwed by JEDEC.

    Sadly, no real winners anywhere with this kinda crap.

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      This needs emphasis. There were no good guys during the peak of the Rambus debacle. Intel tried to take full nearly control over the core logic and memory industries by going to bed with Rambus. Rambus probably mis-used inside information they obtained while working with JEDEC (although IIRC none of the “submarining” charges actually stuck). The other JEDEC members conspired under the table to screw Rambus out of legitimate IP that was going to be very valuable in the next wave of high-speed system memory technologies. Then everybody ended up suing everybody else.

      The only half-winner was VIA, because they became a primary core logic supplier for Intel systems during the period when the Rambus arrangement had crashed and burned, but Intel hadn’t lawyered their way out of the exclusivitiy agreement yet. But that was only after they very nearly got shut out of 80% of the chipset market entirely.

      Overall Rambus got the shortest end of the stick in the ensuing shenanigans, yet everybody still remembers to curse their name when this comes up, and completely forgets about the rest. Rambus is continuing to defend their IP aggressively, but that’s because they have no choice. They are an IP development house, they issue licensing agreements, and if their technology isn’t kept secure from theft, they won’t be able to issue licensing agreements because nobody will want to buy into their technology and then get underpriced by knockoff vendor #56 who has no such cost overhead.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        Nice, thing is that I still hear about Rambus being a PIA ten years on and everyone else has moved on. At that I still think that patent and copyright law is probably single handedly the most broken thing as far as US market regulations go.

    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    Patent system is soooo [url=http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100819/12015210689.shtml<]broken[/url<]. It was broken decades ago. And nothing is being done about it. Crazy.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      AMEN! It doesn’t actually foster innovation but rather limit it. Everything is derived from something else and honestly open source will be the way forward.

      • Neutronbeam
      • 8 years ago

      Something is being done…sort of:

      [url<]http://news.businessweek.com/article.asp?documentKey=1376-LR5YJJ0D9L3501-6MDMAVULAASPE0JUCMLSP4BOPQ[/url<]

        • indeego
        • 8 years ago

        By sort of you mean not at all.

        [url<]http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/everything-you-need-to-know-about-patent-reform-in-one-post/2011/09/06/gIQAOD4V7J_blog.html[/url<] [url<]http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/06/patent-reform-drags-on_n_951128.html[/url<]

      • allston232
      • 8 years ago

      Well, something has been done about it lately, specifically on Sept. 6th, 2011. Congress passed the reformed patent bill into act. Now we’re waiting for the president to sign into law.

      [url<]https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/America_Invents_Act[/url<]

        • wierdo
        • 8 years ago

        I dunno, all I’m reading point to this “reform” bill as something catering to special groups and probably making things worse. Seems it has allot of loopholes for select entities etc, and setup in a way that caters to big corporations at the expense of small inventors. That’s my impression from what I read so far – Arstechnica etc.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    I hope Rambus employees burn in hell. They are criminal and represent nothing but a detriment to the legitimacy of creative properties.

      • A_Pickle
      • 8 years ago

      I’d like to read what a Rambus employee would say to that. I’m sure some of them are earnest engineers hoping to make some cool technology, but… I dunno. Maybe they’re all machiavellian assholes, too.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        At this stage in the game its been how long since they did anything other than try to secure a monopoly through lawsuits? I mean they are smart they game the system but they add no value. RDRAM was a long time ago and simply put they tried to monopolize the memory market through patents instead of by actually competing.

        Sad but true.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          Your computer’s memory benefits from significant contributions from Rambus.

          Are you one of those who think patents should be disallowed altogether?

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 8 years ago

            At the very least overhauled. For reference I’m an Industrial designer and these laws as well as copyright do next to nothing for me as an individual I don’t and wouldn’t have the financial means to protect anything of mine.

            Original Ideas don’t exist all this does is cement the fact that creativity is detrimental to development.

            The only way you can discover/create something new is to stand on the shoulders of the person who came before and right now non but the largest companies can afford to do that.

            The fact that an entire business has built up around this is proof that it needs to change.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            Welcome to the capitalist greed. This is why Socialism is our Messiah. Embrace it!!

            • A_Pickle
            • 8 years ago

            I think that’s a vast overreach. I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that socialism is “the messiah” (for example, I believe in some of the merits of socialism — but do not think very highly of anyone or anything claiming to be a ‘messiah’), but that the U.S. implementation of capitalism is poorly done, at best. I think that an effective free market system MUST have an EFFECTIVE central government in order to fluorish most.

            Effective governments don’t have idiotic patent laws that allow gigantic corporations (like Apple) to be patent trolls.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 8 years ago

            you put into words what I could not, thank you.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 8 years ago

            regulation like patents etc is more in line with a movement to socialism. I would argue that if they aren’t going to do patents right don’t do them at all.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        I’m sure there were innocent contractors working on the 2nd Death Star too.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          The 1st one was IBM, the second one Hitachi…?

        • xeridea
        • 8 years ago

        They willingly work for a patent troll.

          • kamikaziechameleon
          • 8 years ago

          AMEN, I think you have to be moderately aware of your companies public perception. They can’t claim ignorance this late in the game.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      [i<]All[/i<] Rambus employees are criminals...? Including the nice cleaning lady emptying trash cans? You're overreacting just a little bit. I bet you support the death penalty..

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        na, I just get all up in arms about any patent trolls. I remember how much rambus drove up memory prices back in the day. Patent and copyright law is a PITA for me and I’m a Industrial Designer. If you don’t work for a sufficiently large firm with a department dedicated to protecting your stuff… Basically what original Ideas are there? none and patenting logic and process based tech only limits the amount of inspiration that others can take from your work.

        Computers today are tech ontop of tech ontop of tech. Its a flippin patent nightmare. I should have patented Boolean or something, I’d be rich.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          Sorry, but you can’t patent math. It’s against The Rules.

            • heinsj24
            • 8 years ago

            Math can be patented… look at digital masks (half-toning) and cryptography, as examples.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            Lawyers always argue that “processes” can be patented, and have extended it to mean algorithms, and even software.

            I don’t think boolean logic qualifies as a process, though.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 8 years ago

            then WTF is a technological patent, half of any tech patent is logic based derived from math or some form of it. I know you can’t patent math but just look at all the code etc. that is patented or copyrighted or whatever. I mean the law is broken.

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 8 years ago

        They\re contractors – they don’t work for Rambus.

      • jcw122
      • 8 years ago

      You must hate Google, Microsoft, and every other tech company then too.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        I can’t recall much in the way of google being a bully about the crap load of patents it has and just acquired, I actually remember google supporting lots of open source stuff, but then again maybe I’m just goofy about that and misremembering things. I don’t see google suing the crap out of competitors left and right like apple or RAMBUS!

        Microsoft and me have agreed to stop the bitch fight, I stop complaining and they don’t make a vista 2.

        Tons of tech companies exist without being bitches about their stuff.

      • faramir
      • 8 years ago

      I hope they take a good look at Apple’s “patents” of black rectangles as well.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        Apple is … a company that resembles now more of what Microsoft was 10 years ago ironically. I was not a fan of microsofts business practices in the 90s and I’m not an apple fan now. I think I can leave it at that.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    Did one of those overclockers spill some of their liquid helium? ‘Cause it seems Hell’s frozen over….

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 8 years ago

      No spillage as you can see that they were very careful to use their bare hands to keep the splash to a minimum.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Rambus should just close shop for the good of the industry. What a bunch of nuisances.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      They still do good work on high-speed interconnect space.

        • maxxcool
        • 8 years ago

        Not sure why the ignorant masses marked you down (i marked you up), If it were not for rambus most our switches routers and backplanes would be steaming piles of shit.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          It’s popular to hate on anybody who dares to say anything nice about Rambus.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 8 years ago

            yeah it is. you realize you pay higher prices for most of your hardware because of them and patent fiends like them. Rambus’ will most famously be remembered for being a bunch of selfish goofballs.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            That line of thinking should apply to any licensing agreement as well, then. Should ARM get license fees? Should musicians get paid for making music?

            Silly thoughts – of course not! Those will just make products more expensive for the consumers.

            • TheEmrys
            • 8 years ago

            To be fair, its sort of “at least they made the trains run on time” scenario….. Lots of bad, but some good at Rambus.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 8 years ago

            I think you’ll find that the presence of laws and the enforcement of them is extremely uneven.

            I think we’ve all seen a coverband in our day and 99 percent of those are unsanctioned should they pay the original artist? F@#$ NO!

            I think you’ll notice that most tech is derived from other tech. YOU CAN’T HAVE AN ORIGINAL IDEA.

            How could RAMBUS make a legit claim when their tech is built ontop of other peoples design? The system is broken!

        • ronch
        • 8 years ago

        Cool, but they should try acting less like a bitchin’ girlfriend.

          • anotherengineer
          • 8 years ago

          Who is “they”?

          Usually the scientists create the stuff because it’s better and are not really concerned with making millions. While the execs, management, owners etc. try to maximize profits and fatten their pockets however they can, regardless of anything else. (including the human race)

          And we all know we have seen all the big companies, twist and use patents to their benefit themselves and screw their competition. Just like Apple and the new Samsung tablet.

          Having said that the patent system needs a serious overhaul. (the x86 license is another big joke)

          If I could only go back in time and patent the internal combustion engine and anything with 1 to 50 wheels on it.

          Everyone would be taking their horse to work.

            • TREE
            • 8 years ago

            [quote<]Everyone would be taking their horse to work.[/quote<] Those would also have to be horses without carts...

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 8 years ago

            AMEN! Pantent, and copyright law are so flippin broken. have been for decades. Those laws haven’t functioned to protect the little guy in a long time. It just drives up the cost of development and that gets passed onto us, the consumer.

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