Another twist in Rambus/Hynix case?
The district court (D Northern Ca]in the infringement case scheduled for trial April 11, 2005 has ordered Hynix to produce a document allegedly revealing details of a secret DRAM manufacturers' cartel that Rambus claims was called "the JRA Group".
The court also ordered that Rambus be provided details of a joint defense agreement apparently entered into in August 2000 by several semi-conductor manufacturers, including three DRAM makers: Hynix; Micron; and Infineon.
Hynix has asserted that these documents are privileged and need not be produced under a joint-defense agreement. The documents apparently include communications between Hynix and its competitors regarding Rambus and its patents.
John Danforth, a senior VP and general counsel at Rambus, said: "While we cannot know the contents of the documents withheld on the basis of a claim of 'joint defense', they seem to show a high degree of co-operation among defendants relating to Rambus and its patents. The dates of these documents may also be significant. They predate the design of new DRAM products using Rambus technology and fall in a time period when, according to the recent guilty pleas of one DRAM company and four of its executives, there existed a criminal conspiracy among certain DRAM companies to eliminate
***from Bloomberg -->
On the flip side, a lawyer for Infineon Technologies AG , concerning a different proceeding in Virgina, asserted Rambus Inc. destroyed documents knowing that competitors would need them to defend against the company's patent infringement lawsuits. Rambus, which doesn't make the chips it designs, claims its patents cover aspects of all chips made in the $26 billion memory- chip market. The company is seeking royalties from Infineon and other companies who refused to sign agreements to license its patents for dynamic random access memory, or DRAM. DRAM, the most common type of computer memory, loses its content when the power is turned off. DRAM chips are used in computers, digital cameras, mobile phones and other products.
Rambus sued Infineon for patent infringement in August 2000. Infineon counter-sued claiming Rambus should lose its patent rights because of its fraudulent participation in the Joint Electronic Device Engineering Council [JEDEC], a memory-chip standards committee.
Of the patent/antitrust boundary, in September 2004, Infineon pleaded guilty to fixing memory prices and agreed to pay a $160 million fine, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced. The fine is the third largest in the history of the DoJ's anti-trust division.
The DoJ charged Infineon with violating the Sherman Anti-trust Act by conspiring with unnamed DRAM manufacturers between July 1999 and June 2002 to fix prices on DRAM sold to computer and server vendors.