FTC Loses Bid to Resurrect Rambus Antitrust Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to resurrect an antitrust case against memory maker Rambus.

The court, without comment, turned down the FTC's request to continue the case, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out last April. The court's decision, released Monday, effectively ends the FTC's efforts to seek antitrust sanctions against Rambus for allegedly 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 appeals court had suggested the FTC presented weak evidence against Rambus.

Several other memory makers had urged the FTC to press forward on the case in an attempt to reduce royalty fees associated with Rambus' technologies. Rambus and other memory vendors continue to have outstanding civil lawsuits against each other related to memory licensing.

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, who 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.

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