Rambus Sends Its Patent Lawyers After The Mobile Phone Industry

from the uh-oh dept

As if the wireless industry needs any more destructive patent battles, here comes Rambus, a one-company patent-induced tornado, directly into the handset world. If you recall, Rambus has spent the better part of this millennium (and parts of the previous one) fighting various patent litigation suits that have resulted in the company getting millions of dollars -- though sometimes under questionable circumstances. Remember, this is the company that went to various standards planning meetings, took notes, quietly amended patents to cover what the eventual standards would cover, pushed for the new standards to include stuff they knew they had patents pending on (without mentioning that to other members) and then after the standards were granted coming in and demanding licensing fees from everyone. While Rambus has convinced many companies to hand over millions of dollars, last year it had one case thrown out after the company was caught destroying important relevant documents concerning the case (see update below). Sounds like a great company, right? Well, now Rambus' CEO has mentioned that just about every mobile handset maker infringes on some Rambus patents. This isn't a comment he made just for the hell of it, of course. He's putting those firms on notice, and, if they hadn't already, they're probably about to get letters demanding licensing fees. He claims that the reason everyone is infringing was they thought that Rambus would lose its other patent lawsuits. That seems like a stretch. Given Rambus' history of being trigger happy on patent litigation, you would think most firms would actually be extra careful around the technology. Perhaps a more reasonable explanation is that the firms never thought they were infringing in the first place. Update: Someone in the comments helpfully let us know that they were later exonerated from the charge of destroying documents, which we were unaware of. Others in the comments take issue with the other claims against the company as well. That's why we like having comments, because it allows people to bring up things like this and point out things that were missed or that people disagree with. Please read on for more info in the comments.


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  1.  
    identicon
    mark, Feb 15th, 2006 @ 6:56pm

    No Subject Given

    Well, I am impressed. Just like I'm impressed with M*crosoft and Enron. Doesn't sound like these characters create anything, so much as turn someone else's work to their own control. That's nothing new, as anyone familar with the origins of wireless (I'm not talking about cellular here) can tell you. Armstrong, Marconi, and others were in disputes all the time. But at least they worked to move the state of the art. These last couple decades are dominated more by legal gamesmanship than engineering.

     

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  2.  
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    patent guy, Feb 15th, 2006 @ 8:06pm

    read the history first

    Shame on you, gentlemen.
    Legal gamesmanship aside,
    Mike Farmwald and Mark Horowitz, the founders of Rambus, filed comprehensive patent claims in the early 1990s related to memory bus architectures and synchronous DRAM technology.
    So I guess Rambus has "promoted the progress" after all...

     

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  3.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 15th, 2006 @ 9:20pm

    Re: read the history first

    Did I deny the claims in their patents? No. My post was simply pointing out that they're fairly rabid (and have a history of questionable behavior) when it comes to patents. I have no statement on the quality of Rambus's patents.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    the unknown, Feb 15th, 2006 @ 11:41pm

    unethical behavior

    " this is the company that went to various standards planning meetings, took notes, quietly amended patents to cover what the eventual standards would cover, pushed for the new standards to include stuff they knew they had patents pending on (without mentioning that to other members) and then after the standards were granted coming in and demanding licensing fees from everyone "
    This is completely unethical behavior. Isn't anyone going to blow the whistle on this one?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    thecaptain, Feb 16th, 2006 @ 5:24am

    Re: read the history first

    That may be...but they sure as hell ain't promoting any progress now.

    Fact is, RAMBUS used some rather dirty pool to squeeze (or blackmail if you will) millions from companies who WERE promoting progress.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    fred, Feb 16th, 2006 @ 11:04pm

    rambus

    hey mike, are you sure you know what you are talking about? rambus founders farmwald and horowitz invented the technology behind sdram, ddr, etc. rambus tried to license it to others, but everyone else tried to steal it. Rambus had no choice but to sue. rambus has just been cleared of the destroying documents charge by a highly respected Judge Whyte. The FTC Judge also ruled for Rambus. visit rambus.org for more information. maybe you can even learn a thing or two and make money by investing in the co before it's too late.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    James Rutowski, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 5:37am

    Rambus and Handsets

    You wrote: "Remember, this is the company that went to various standards planning meetings, took notes, quietly amended patents to cover what the eventual standards would cover, pushed for the new standards to include stuff they knew they had patents pending on (without mentioning that to other members) and then after the standards were granted coming in and demanding licensing fees from everyone."
    Please get your facts straight! This reckless "journalism" is strewn with lies regurgitated enough times so media hacks like yourself take it as truth. I suggest you begin reading Judge Randall Rader's decision in the CAFC appeal which stated as follows:
    ""In sum, the district court erred in its construction of each of the disputed terms. In light of the revised claim construction, this court vacates the grant of JMOL of noninfringement and remands for the district court to reconsider infringement." "In sum, substantial evidence does not support the jury's verdict that Rambus breached its duties under the EIA/JEDEC policy. Infineon did not show the first element of a Virginia fraud action and therefore did not prove fraud associated with the SDRAM standard. No reasonable jury could find otherwise. The district court erred in denying JMOL of no fraud on the SDRAM verdict. Because of these holdings, the new trial and injunction issues are moot."
    http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/NSD/RMBS/msoA7__.pdf
    In addition as you are handing out slaps on the wrist for "stealing", try reading this email that was recently produced in the Rambus Hynix trial. The contents of the email are JEDEC's passing off of other consortiums work on dram as their own! THe email is as follows: "
    3 One JEDEC memo – written for a task force of JEDEC’s senior counsel and
    broadly distributed within JEDEC – stated:
    One of our most active committees, the memory
    committee, is continually getting bad press for not
    delivering timely and effective standards. Further proof of
    this can be seen by the formation of parallel groups like
    PCMCIA, SLDRAM, and RAMBUS. The recent result of
    this is that the work of these competitive groups has been
    taken and adopted by JEDEC as our standards. Likewise,
    we are now adapting the outside work of other national
    standard groups and issuing them as our own.
    "
    http://investor.rambus.com/downloads/2006-02-14%20Rambus%20Brief%20in%20Support%20of%20Motion%2 0to%20Transfer.pdf
    I expect a full article with the truth being told! I will not rest until media hacks such as yourself finally get off their lazy posterior's and actually look for what is the truth! I welcome your response!

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Barry Watzman, Feb 17th, 2006 @ 6:02am

    This article is full of anti-Rambus lies

    This article is just full of anti-rambus lies. Lies that are commonly believed, widely reported and simply not true.

    If you want some facts, instead of lies, read the legal decisions in this string of 6-year old court cases. Oh yes, I know, this actually takes some effort. But with the exception of the biased (or possibly corrupt) Judge Payne in Virginia, every court that has heard any aspect of the Rambus case has found that Rambus did absolutely nothing ... repeat NOTHING ... illegal. The CAFC (Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit), in overturning about a dozen of Judge Payne's rulings, found that Rambus did not steal anything from Jedec and did not behave improperly. FTC Chief ALJ (Admin. Law Judge) McGuire found that Rambus was not guilty of ANY of the charges brought against it by the Federal Trade Commission, and his 330 page ruling, citing over 1,500 individual "findings of fact", is a real eye-opener [As are, if you look into it, the ways in which Micron managed to totally usurp and take control of the FTC itself, even getting one of it's own private attorneys hired by the FTC as the FTC's "prosecutor" in the Rambus case]. And Federal District Court Judge Whyte, after an extensive trial with many witnesses, millions of pages of documents, terrabytes of data and a month of hearings and testimony, found that Rambus had NOT destroyed any relevant documents and was not guilty of "spoliation" of evidence (in contrast to Judge Payne's sham trial held on a Saturday and a Monday Federal holiday to ramrod Rambus into a settlement with Infineon, whose attorneys in the case before him just happened to be his own old law firm, which which he still has ties).

    Lots of people think that they know the Rambus story. In most cases, what they "know" is a bunch of often-repeated and widely believed lies spread by an organized Cartel colluding for the explicit purpose of putting Rambus out of business because it was a threat to them by virtue of Rambus' far superior technology. And if you don't believe that, look into the Department of Justice guilty pleas for Criminal anti-trust by Infineon, Hynix and Samsung (with conspirator Micron apparently getting amnesty from the DOJ for reasons that are themselves highly questionable).

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    jjbucci, Feb 18th, 2006 @ 6:58pm

    Re: unethical behavior

    You are very misinformed on the subject of Rambus...
    1st, Rambus NEVER "pushed for new standards to include stuff they key they had patents pending on (without mentioning to other members)"...
    While a member of the standards group, Rambus was twice denied the ability to present their technology for possible standardization...this denial was an antitrust violation...
    Large companies at the standards meetings stood up and proclaimed that they would not divulge patent applications they were working on...
    I'm amazed how many people fell for the smear campaign orchestrated by the Memory cartel...the same people who would meet privately outside of the standards group to decide what technology they would support while at the meetings...

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    rmbsMaximus, Feb 18th, 2006 @ 8:20pm

    Re: This article is full of anti-Rambus lies

    Good comments, BArryW and JJBucci! It's AMAZING how much corrupt or shoddy/lazy journalism gets written in the tech journals!! Unbelieveable!! [that 'facts' aren't checked and previous lies are enough to sustain echoes of echoes of echoes of falsehoods...]
    gluck, rammax

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Stefan Jauch, Feb 18th, 2006 @ 10:32pm

    Re: read the history first

    I.) Rambus intentions are paintet as evil and according to you they mischievously attained information from the JEDEC to extend their claims once the standards were adopted.
    II.) Now how sinister and evil would it be if the other JEDEC members actually knew about the Rambus patent claims BEFORE the standarts were adopted? Regarding Rambus quietly taking notes in the meetings: Did you know that JEDEC actually denied Rambus to present their claims! Now why would they do that?
    Your article is a good example how the widespread Anti Rambus Propaganda is recycled again & again and hence over the years is perceived at the truth.
    Over all these years however some new evidence came to light painting a far more different picture suggesting that the truth is closer to II.) rather than I.)
    It's understandable that repainting the commonly perceived image of Rambus as the villain is much more popular and much easier than doing time consuming research digging out the disturbing facts that speak a very different story indeed.
    I therefore would like to ask you to invest considerably more time to find out about the real story around Rambus and help to make it public.
    Thanks in advance for your efforts


     

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  12.  
    identicon
    sxk_2005, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 6:06am

    Get teh facts about Rambus

    You are so off base from the truth, it is not even funny. But then, I am a biased Rambus share holder so don't take my word for it. Instead, I would advise you to read only one document by the Federal Trade Committee appointed Administrative Law Judge. The FTC ALJ heard arguments from the FTC side and from Rambus side and came up with a lengthy document detailing the truth behind all the Rambus happenings. Here is a link to that document: http://www.ftc.gov/os/adjpro/d9302/040223initialdecision.pdf Please read at least the findings of fact before you reach a conclusion. This document will clear up at least the following things for you: (1) Rambus actually invented Synchronous memory and taught the entire world how to get it to work. (2) The work arounds are a lot more expensive thant what Rambus is asking for from a royalties perspective. (3) The DRAM manufacturers are the actual colluding thieves who tried to muscle the little company that could. All the DRAM manufacturers have pled guilty to price fixing and paid close to a collective $1B in fines. And more. This is a fiction movie writer's dream. And it is based on a true story.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    RickABrown, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 7:09am

    Re: Get teh facts about Rambus

    The facts about Rambus are available from a number of sources. One of those sources is http://www.rambus.org which is a one-stop source for the whole Rambus story. Rather than unfounded and already defeated allegations, independent website www.rambus.org states facts and gives links to the actual court decisions where those unfounded allegations have been defeated.

    It is really refreshing to see the truth about this great innovative company used to refute these empty-headed lies that started this thread.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Gary, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 7:44am

    Re: read the history first

    If you wrote a hit song, and a major record label made it an international hit that brought them many hundreds of millions of dollars, would you do everything you could to protect your intellectual property that you had valid copyrights on? Rabit with law suits...how ignorant and myopic can one get!

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    nxt999nxt, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 8:02am

    Re: article of anti-Rambus lies (adds Elpida)

    To this great comment, I would simply add that another major DRAM manufacturer has been convicted in the anti-trust/collusion/cartel conspiracy case.

    Elpida has recently admitted guilt and been punished in one of the Department of Justice's largest anti-trust cases ever.

    *********
    Elpida Reaches Settlement with DOJ on Industry Wide DRAM Antitrust Investigation
    TOKYO, JAPAN, January 31 (January 30 in US time), 2006 - Elpida Memory, Inc. (Elpida) announced today that it has reached an agreement with the United States Department of Justice - Antitrust Division - (DOJ) to plead guilty to certain violations of US antitrust laws in connection with certain DRAM sales during the period of April 1999 through June 2002, including certain sales made by NEC and Hitachi prior to the commencement of Elpida's sales operation. The total fine amount in the agreement is US$ 84 million.

    http://www.elpida.com/en/news/2006/01-31.html

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 11:24am

    Re: This article is full of anti-Rambus lies

    Well said.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Eric Stevens, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 12:32pm

    Re: unethical behavior

    Infineon has already tried to blow the whistle on this one. Unfortunately the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) took the pea out of thw whistle when in October 2003 they decided that what Rambus did was neither illegal nor in breach of the JEDEC committee rules.

    Regretably your version of the story is a fiction which has persisted for long past the date when it was shown to be wrong. FUD sticks.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Tom, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 12:37pm

    Your so full if SHIT

    Do your DD

    Rambus is the victum of this RAPE, not the RAPIST!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    tom, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 12:55pm

    Re: article of anti-Rambus lies (adds Elpida)

    Way to set the record straight
    Friend from the other threads

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    raymond gatzke, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 3:48pm

    Re: This article is full of anti-Rambus lies

    excellent reply and truthful

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    atest457, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 5:08pm

    Mike, what was your motivation?

    I'm curious, out of all the tech stories out there you could possibly write about, why is it that you chose to tell this Rambus "Tale" when you, clearly, haven't been following the 6-year saga?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Leon Sarnow, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 5:27pm

    Rambus and mobile industry.

    Very disingeneous comments.
    1- Rambus WAS INVITED TO JEDEC by Mitsubishi.
    2- Almost all jedec members had signed nondisclosure agreements with Rambus so they were very much aware of Rambus' technology.
    3- Infineon s chairman after learning of Rambus technology said: "Someday all computers will be built this way hopefully without paying royalties to Rambus". Is there a more telling statement than that one? So please be honest with yourselve and conclude the obvious. Jedec members cherry picked Rambus technology willingly and hoping they would get around it without paying royalties.
    4- If not so, whay did they prevent Rambus from presenteing at Jedec. This is a documented fact.Were they afraid that after letting them present it would be imposible to use the argument that nobody new what Rambus wanted?
    5-"If you recall, Rambus has spent the better part of this millennium (and parts of the previous one) fighting various patent litigation suits that have resulted in the company getting millions of dollars -- though sometimes under questionable circumstances". Now tell me what are those questinable circumstances. That Rambus wanted to prevent these powerful companies from using their technology "hopefully without paying royalties to Rambus"? That is called stealing.
    6-The CAFC confirmed that it is legal to ammend patents. Besides there is a withdrawl letter of Rambus from Jedec in 1995 advising them celarly that Rambus reserved the right to ask for royalties of infringing products.
    7- You mean to tell me that from 1995 to today the honest Jedec members could not have turned into different technolgies? They haven t because Rambus' technology, morphed into DDr DDR2 DDR3 is clearly the best. They just don t want to pay for it.
    8- Yes, Rambus has spent better part of this millenium litigating,NOT STEALING as many of the Jedec members. I salute them for that. I salute this small company for standing up against an already proven guilty of price fixing cartel and not allowing them to steal their property, a principle ( privet property) that is the backbone of AMERICA. I salute them for standing up against the FTC, a goverment agency that after a dramatically clear and convincing opinion of their own ALJ that exonerated Rambus without a shadow of a doubt are stalling for almost two years waiting to see if something kills Rambus first instead of giving in to the obvious: Rambus is the victim and the cartel is the perpetrator of the crime.
    Allow me to tell you, the truth is very close to be universally known and then I would like to hear what you have to say.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    John, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 6:55pm

    Looks like...

    Man. Looks like someone pointed the Rambus fan club (by which I mean, Rambus investors) to this thread. It's funny how strongly some of you feel about it. You know the saying "thou dost protest too much..."

    Yeah. That's you guys.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    James "Leugy" Leugner, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 7:17pm

    Re: Looks like...

    I am a Rambus investor and I feel very strongly about the theft of my companies IP. On one hand the delays in justice have delayed my personal plans, but on the other hand the delays have allowed me to aquire much more of the companies stock. Rambus could and should be the greatest percentage gaining stock of 2006. If justice is done in Judge Whytes court this year, then I and all other Rambus investors will have the last laugh.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    John, Feb 19th, 2006 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Looks like...

    What's hilarious is how the Rambus investors are so damn vehement about this -- as if they actually know what happened. They're so sure of the company, just because they put money into it.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    emichan, Feb 22nd, 2006 @ 4:43pm

    Re: This article is full of anti-Rambus lies

    every court that has heard any aspect of the Rambus case has found that Rambus did absolutely nothing ... repeat NOTHING ... illegal.


    Not doing anything ILLEGAL is not the same as not doing anything WRONG....



    interesting terminology on your part, though...

     

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