All but three of Rambus' patent claims against Germany's Infineon were dismissed by a US federal judge in Richmond, Virginia late on Monday. The move is a new twist for Rambus' case against the semiconductor manufacturer, in which billions of pounds of royalties are at stake.
Judge Robert Payne of the US District Court in Richmond, Virginia said Rambus' case had failed to prove that a large number of Rambus' 104 US patents had been incorporated into Infineon's memory products, following non-disclosure technical briefings by Rambus in the early 90s. The judge also indicated that he would not find Infineon guilty of "wilfully" violating Rambus' patents, according to industry reports.
A decision is expected sometime after Thursday on whether the case will continue based on the remaining three patents, which cover output drivers, programmable registers and programmable data block sizes.
Rambus has rested its case and Infineon will now give its evidence. Infineon accuses Rambus of misleading the Jedec committee -- which was hammering out open memory standards in the early 90s -- over the status of Rambus patents. Rambus now claims that the open standards created by Jedec, used in mainstream SDRAM and DDR DRAM memories, incorporate Rambus-owned ideas. If it is successful, Rambus could win the right to receive about $1 on every PC sold for the foreseeable future, according to some estimates.
Rambus has received SDRAM licensing agreements from seven memory makers, and has lawsuits pending against Micron and Hynix (formerly Hyundai Electronics). Micron and Hynix have in turn sued Rambus.
As a pure intellectual-property company, Rambus does not manufacture its own chips but depends on companies paying license fees. The company's share price has swung wildly amidst news and rumours circulating before and during the trial.
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