Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

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
    Eric Stevens, 19 Feb 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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