FTC Asks Supreme Court to Review Rambus Antitrust Case

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in a case in which the agency accused memory-maker Rambus of anticompetitive behavior in deceiving a standards-setting body.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in April threw out the FTC's case against Rambus, in which the agency accused the company of convincing industry groups to declare a standard for the memory used in PCs, servers, printers and cameras without admitting that it owned the patents to those technologies. The FTC Monday asked the Supreme Court to overturn that appellate decision.

The FTC brought antitrust charges against Rambus in 2002. After a trial, the full commission reversed a decision by Chief Administrative Law Judge Stephen McGuire, ruled for Rambus in early 2004.

In mid-2006, the FTC charged Rambus with engaging in an illegal monopoly, saying the company failed to disclose its patents on DRAM (dynamic RAM) memory chip-related technology while working with standards-setting organization the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) to create royalty-free or low-royalty standards for DRAM technology.

In early 2007, the FTC required Rambus to license its DRAM chips to other vendors, and it capped the royalty fees Rambus could charge.

Rambus appealed the case and won in the appeals court.

A Rambus spokeswoman didn't immediately return a message seeking comment on the FTC's request of the Supreme Court. In April, the company said it was pleased with the appeals court decision.

"As we have contended all along, Rambus did nothing wrong during its participation in the JEDEC standard-setting organization, and now the Court of Appeals has confirmed our point of view," Tom Lavelle, Rambus' senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement then. "Rambus has had to endure years of uncertainty, lost business and enormous legal fees defending this case, and we are thrilled to have this portion behind us."

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