Samsung admits price-fixing, pays $300M fine

In a major win for Rambus, Samsung has admitted that it conspired with other DDR manufacturers to fix the price of RDRAM between January 1, 2001 and June 15, 2002. Samsung additionally admitted to conspiring to control the price of DDR and SDRAM during "at least certain periods" from April 1, 1999 to June 15, 2002.

Rambus' price-fixing and anti-trust allegations against the DRAM manufacturers appear to have been largely substantiated in court. Infineon and Hynix have paid fines of $185 million and $160 million, respectively, and Samsung's $300 million fine is the second-largest in US antitrust history. These current decisions aren't a part of the patent litigation between Rambus and the various DRAM manufacturers it sued for infringement years ago, though they touch on some of the same core issues regarding why Rambus technology failed in the marketplace.

Relaying the ins and outs of the various cases, as well as the specific court findings and documentation, would require a full-sized article rather than a news post, but the current situation boils down to this: Despite their horrendously bad timing and the arrogant way they presented their DRAM patent claims in 2000 and 2001, Rambus may actually have been correct both in their patent interpretations and in their claim that the DRAM manufacturers conspired to limit RDRAM's market share. That's not to say they were sweet, innocent victims, but a substantial body of evidence has emerged in these various lawsuits to spread bad faith all the way around.

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