Rambus Claims ITC Victory but Nvidia Predicts No Impact

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Rambus, a developer of chip technology, on Monday said the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled in its favor against graphics chip maker Nvidia for allegedly infringing on three of nine asserted patents.

Four of the asserted patents from the original complaint were withdrawn from the investigation and two were found not to be valid, Rambus said in a statement.

The complaint against Nvidia sought to bar the importation and sale in the U.S. of products containing chips that infringed on the Rambus patents. Such products include Nvidia graphics processors and chipsets that use infringing memory controllers. The complaint also named Nvidia customers including Hewlett-Packard, Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology and Micro-Star International (MSI).

The ITC has not yet posted the ruling on its website and Rambus said the final determination has yet to be released, but the chip maker said the ITC would issue a limited exclusion order barring importation and sale of products that infringed on the three patents found to be valid.

Rambus held a conference call with shareholders to discuss the ITC determination and its stock soared 8.5 percent, or US$1.66, to $21.25 in after-market trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

Nvidia said it will appeal the case in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and make other moves to avoid any sales or import issues.

"There will be no impact on our customers or our business as a result of this ruling," Nvidia said in a statement.

The company said it would take advantage of a European Commission license that requires Rambus to make certain patents available to it. The license was the result of a 2009 settlement with the European Commission, which had pressed a case against Rambus alleging abuse of a dominant position in the market.

Nvidia can apparently pay for that license and use it for up to five years.

"This will allow us and our partners to continue our business under the terms of that license and prevent the enforcement of any exclusion order," it said.

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