Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Rambus case against Infineon in ED Va thrown out

Judge Payne in the ED Va has dismissed the case of Rambus against Infineon because of document destruction issues. This is not the first time document destruction issues have plagued Rambus; see the order of JAMES P. TIMONY, Administrative Law Judge on Feb. 26, 2003 (almost exactly two years before Judge Payne's decision) available at 2003 FTC LEXIS 25.

From the 2003 order:

-->Complaint Counsel filed its motion for default judgment relating to Rambus's destruction of material evidence. Complaint Counsel asserts that the drastic remedy of an entry of a default judgment as to liability against Rambus is necessary to counter Rambus's intentional destruction of documents deleterious to Rambus's litigation position.

According to Complaint Counsel, in 1997 Rambus instituted a sham corporate document retention policy that was in fact nothing but an intentional wholesale house-cleaning of corporate documents. Complaint Counsel further asserts that even if Rambus's actions amounted to something less than the intentional destruction of documents, Rambus still must be sanctioned for failing to require its employees to retain documents that could be relevant to reasonably foreseeable litigation.<--

However, Judge Timony did not enter default judgment:

For the reasons set forth below, while the motion for the entry of default judgement is DENIED, the undisputed facts of record require sanctions in the form of certain rebuttable adverse presumptions against Rambus at the trial of this matter based on its spoliation of evidence.

from Bloomberg, March 1, 2005:

U.S. District Judge Robert Payne in Richmond, Virginia, said that dismissal of the lawsuit by Rambus against Infineon was the ``appropriate action'' to punish Rambus for the conduct. He said Infineon had successfully argued that Rambus destroyed the documents to prevent chipmakers from challenging Rambus patents.

The dismissal raises the possibility that other memory-chip makers can use the ruling to bolster their own cases with Rambus, potentially costing Rambus hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing fees. Rambus, which says its patents cover aspects of nearly all memory chips, is also in lawsuits against Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and Micron Technology Inc.

``This becomes a mechanism for Hynix and potentially Micron to, at least in North America, argue for dismissal of their cases,'' said Erach Desai, an analyst at American Technology Research in Greenwich, Connecticut, who has a hold rating on Rambus shares and doesn't own them. ``Will it happen? I don't know, but it does present a quandary for Rambus.''

After the end of the Bloomberg report, the following text is present:

To contact the reporter of this story:
Susan Decker in Washington at at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Patrick Oster in New York at

Another case in the ED Va saga. Note that a Rambus patent is of relevance in the Quillen/Webster discussion of continuing applications.


Founded in March 1990, Rambus develops, secures patents on, and
licenses technologies to companies that manufacture semiconductor memory devices. Rambus is not a manufacturing company and thus it relies on the licensing of its patent portfolio for revenue.

In 1990, Rambus filed United States Patent Application Serial Number
07/510,898 (the "898 application") with claims directed to dynamic
random access memory, or "DRAM" technology. The United States Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") determined that the application covered several independent inventions.
Consequently, the PTO issued an eleven-way restriction requiring Rambus to elect one invention to pursue in its application. In response, Rambus filed numerous divisional and continuation applications assertedly based on its
original application. Thereafter, Rambus was awarded numerous DRAM
patents. According to Rambus, these patents are directed to several DRAM-related technologies: Rambus DRAM ("RDRAM"), Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory ("SDRAM"), and Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory ("DDR-SDRAM"). n2 Among those patents are the four patents-in-suit:
United States Patent Nos. 5,954,804 (the "'804 patent"), 6,034,918 (the "'918 patent"), 5,953,263 (the "'263 patent"), and 6,032,214 (the "'214 patent"). n3 These patents were issued in 1999 and 2000.

n2 These technologies are described in some detail at Rambus, Inc.
v. Infineon Techs. Ag., 318 F.3d 1081, 1085 (Fed. Cir. 2003). See also Rambus, Inc. v. Infineon Techs. AG., 164 F. Supp. 2d 743, 747-48 (E.D. Va. 2001). Broadly, a DRAM is a high-speed, shortterm memory device where information being used by the central processing unit of a computer is temporarily stored.

**industry standards issues

During closing arguments, Infineon's counsel argued, inter alia: "If
they had invented it, it would have been in the patent in the first place, but they didn't. They stole it. They stole it from the industry standards bodies."
n6 Counsel further argued: "They [Rambus] go to ... [JEDEC] meetings, they see the presentations ... They go meet with their patent lawyer, they start amending the claims." n7 And: "Did Rambus attend standards bodies meetings and change their patents to cover what they saw at the standards meetings? You can't
reach any other conclusion." n8

In particular, Rambus offered an instruction based on the following language from that case:

It should be made clear ... that there is nothing improper,
illegal or inequitable in filing a patent application for the purpose of obtaining a right to exclude a known competitor's product from the market; nor is it in any manner improper to amend or insert claims intended to cover a competitor's product the applicant's attorney has learned about during the prosecution.
Kingsdown, 863 F.2d at 874.
Specifically, the alternate instruction
read as

It is not improper to amend or add patent claims intended to cover
competitor's product about which the applicant has learned during
prosecution of the patent application, including a continuation or
divisional patent application, provided that the claims are
by the original patent application ... [and] provided that the
or amended claims are not based on information obtained by
engaging in
wrongful conduct.

Rambus, Inc. v. Infineon Techs. AG, 164 F. Supp. 2d 743, 774 (E.D. Va.


Blogger Robert Logan said...

You correctly note that Rambus' behavior resulted in an order wherein presumptions were adversely switched against Rambus. However, you fail to note that despite the adverse presumptions, Rambus carried that day. I respectfully believe your summary would have been more accurate if it had quoted the following:

"Rambus s conduct in this regard is, at best troublesome. In a different cause of action, the Court might well have sanctioned Rambus for having deprived Complaint Counsel of their ability to present the merits of the case and thereby prejudicing Complaint Counsel and the adjudicative process. See, e. , Anderson v. Cryovac Inc. 862 F.2d 910 925 (1st Cir. 1988).

However, the process here has not been prejudiced as there is no indication that any documents, relevant and material to the disposition of the issues in this case, were destroyed. fact, complaint Counsel noted that the record shows "an unusual degree of visibility into the precise nature ofRambus s conduct." (Opening Statement, Tr. 15)."

11:15 PM  

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