Two of the world's biggest D-Ram memory suppliers are gripped in a legal battle as Micron Technology this week accused Rambus of US antitrust violations.
The lawsuit follows Rambus' attempts to get D-Ram companies to pay royalties for the use of its patents on synchronous dynamic (SD) Ram and double data rate SD-Ram memory technology. Rambus claims it holds patents which allow it to receive royalty payments from the manufacturers of some of the industry's most common memory types.
Rambus has been aggressively protecting its intellectual property and has sued Infineon Technologies (formerly Siemens Semiconductors) and Sega for alleged patent infringement.
But Micron argues in its lawsuit that the Rambus patents are invalid and non-enforceable. In a statement, Rambus remarked that "rather than negotiate, Micron chose to litigate".
A Micron spokesman said: "We feel our claims are valid and we expect them to be upheld in a legal venue."
According to the spokesman, Rambus approached Micron last week to begin licensing discussions "but as a result of that meeting, Micron decided the lawsuit would be the best course of action for its employees, customers and shareholders". The decision was also based on Rambus' previous actions in lawsuits against other manufacturers, he added.
The company has licensed its intellectual property to about 30 semiconductor companies, including Oki Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi.
Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group, said the lawsuit holds merit because Micron took a long time before filing and took a considerate approach. "If there is some viability to the nature of the intellectual property, one possibility would be to see what kind of fee would be charged to Micron, for example. A reduced or limited royalty is a possibility," he said.
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