FTC quizzes chip makers in Rambus case

US regulator appears to be investigating Rambus following allegations that surfaced during the chip designer's court case earlier this year

Hynix Semiconductor and Micron Technology have been interviewed by the US Federal Trade Commission in an investigation into chip designer Rambus, according to reports.

Earlier this year Rambus was convicted of fraud for failing to disclose patent applications while it was a member of the JEDEC memory standards body, and the investigation is now believed to be focusing on Rambus' patent conflict with JEDEC.

A Micron spokesman and a Hynix executive told trade publication Electronic Buyer's News last week that executives from their companies had been interviewed. Micron also said that the FTC had subpoenaed records in the case. The FTC is believed to have been investigating Rambus since at least the beginning of this year.

Rambus controls a high-speed memory standard, RDRAM, designed for high-end computers. However, it also claims that its patents cover the double data rate (DDR) DRAM design, which had been designed by JEDEC as an open standard. Several chip makers have accused Rambus of secretly patenting the technology discussed by JEDEC for the company's own uses.

Rambus has denied any knowledge of an FTC investigation, and is appealing the fraud ruling.

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