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.

"We are not surprised by the FTC's filing and we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will confirm the decision of the CADC," said Tom Lavelle, senior vice president and general counsel at Rambus, in a statement. "We will file our response in the near future, and I note that the rulings of the FTC's administrative law judge, the CADC and a federal court jury in March of this year confirm that our position is the correct one."

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.

(Additional reporting by Martyn Williams in Tokyo.)

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