Jury Rules Against Rambus in Antitrust Case

A San Francisco jury has rejected a US$4 billion antitrust claim by Rambus against rival RAM makers Hynix Semiconductor and Micron Technology, a California court announced Wednesday.

A jury for the Superior Court of California rejected Rambus' claim that Hynix and Micron conspired with each other and other companies to fix the prices of RDRAM and keep DDR prices low in order to prevent Rambus-developed RDRAM from becoming the RAM standard, according to court documents. The jury also rejected Rambus' claims that Hynix and Micron conspired to disrupt a relationship between Rambus and Intel.

Rambus filed the lawsuit in May 2004. The RDRAM maker alleged that Hynix and Micron conspired to keep RDRAM prices "unnaturally" high, while keeping DDR prices low, Rambus said in a statement. "Upon succeeding in eliminating RDRAM as a competitor in the main memory market, the defendants raised the prices of DDR by as much as 500 percent," Rambus said.

Rambus is disappointed with the verdict, President and CEO Harold Hughes said in a statement. "We do not agree with several rulings that affected how this case was presented to the jury and we are reviewing our options for appeal," he said.

Representatives of Micron and Hynix weren't immediately available for comment.

Rambus has also sued Micron and Hynix for patent infringement in recent years.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission brought its own antitrust case against Rambus in 2006, accusing the company of failing to disclose its patents on DRAM-related technology while working with the standards-setting organization the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) to create royalty-free or low-royalty standards. The FTC lost the case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 and later dropped it.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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