Rambus vs. Infineon: Trial delayed until April

Summary:A U.S. District judge has delayed Rambus' trial against Infineon until April to permit further discovery in the case.

A U.S. District judge has delayed Rambus' trial against Infineon until April to permit further discovery in the case.

On Friday, Judge Robert Payne ordered that the trial between the two memory companies be rescheduled for April 10, so that chip designer Rambus can conduct further discovery, according to a statement from the company. Rambus claims the new information will contradict the depositions of Infineon executives on core issues in the case.

The trial was supposed to start next week.

At a hearing Friday in Richmond, Va., Payne said he was concerned about "systemic nondisclosure" in the case, according to Dow Jones News Service. Rambus claims that documents crucial to the case, for example, only came to light a few days ago--months after discovery closed.

Payne ordered Infineon's lawyers to go to the company's headquarters in Germany to conduct a full document search, according to Rambus. The judge also gave Rambus time to take the deposition of Infineon CEO Ulrich Schumacher.

Infineon declined to comment.

Payne will permit Infineon to proceed with a claim that Rambus violated the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, according to other wire reports. Ominous as it may sound, RICO is used in civil cases to establish fraud.

The delay is the latest turn of events in the topsy-turvy saga of Rambus.

On Thursday, the company's stock dropped more than 30 percent after a report on Electronic News that Payne was going to issue an order Friday limiting Rambus' claims.

Electronic News later admitted that its report, based on anonymous sources, contained some inaccuracies.

But on Friday, Payne did issue an order circumscribing definitions of technical terms, such as "bus," that are crucial to the case. The selection of definitions could favor Infineon, which pushed for the limitations, because they could eventually prove that Infineon's technology is different.

Rambus continued to see its shares slide Friday. The stock closed down $8.29, or 34 percent, to $15.80.

Los Altos, Calif.-based Rambus is suing Infineon for patent infringement, claiming the German manufacturer owes it royalties for production of synchronous dynamic RAM and double data rate DRAM, two types of memory currently used in computers.

Infineon denies the claim. In addition, Infineon argues that even if the patents are valid, Rambus can't enforce them.

While the patents were pending, Rambus joined a technological standards body, which eventually adopted memory standards that allegedly infringed upon Rambus' patents. Rambus failed to disclose the existence of the patents. Infineon claims the nondisclosure violated the rules of JEDEC, the standards group, rendering royalty claims moot.

Rambus disputes that the company violated the rules. The documents the company is seeking from Infineon, Rambus lawyers contend, will show that Infineon had knowledge of Rambus' technology earlier than stated.

In the past, companies have been prevented from enforcing patents because of nondisclosure, but the case law is far from clear.

Topics: Patents, Legal

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