Hynix, Rambus both claim to be the victors in legal dispute judgement


Sat, Nov 24, 2001 - Page 21

Hynix Semiconductor Inc, the third-largest computer-memory chipmaker, and Rambus Inc, a chip designer, this week both claimed victory in a legal dispute between the two over the extent of the US company's patents.

A partial summary judgement by the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Wednesday means "most of Rambus' patent claims have been dismissed," Korea-based Hynix said in an e-mail sent to reporters.

Meanwhile, Rambus said earlier in the week through a news release that the postponement of part of the judgment represented a win.

The suit by Hynix is now likely to be determined according to the outcome of an appeal by it against the verdict on a similar case brought by Infineon Technologies AG, Rambus said.

A victory for Rambus may force Hynix and Infineon to pay license fees to Rambus on products they believe were designed according to an open standard.

Were Rambus to lose, the chip designer would be deprived of royalties on designs the Los Altos, California-based company claims are used in most of the world's memory chips, millions of which are produced and sold monthly.

At the center of the dispute: counter-claims about the origins of the designs of the current generation of DRAM chips, which are most commonly used as the main memory for personal computers.

Hynix and Infineon are refusing to pay Rambus for the right to make chips other than those designed specifically by the company.

Rambus says its patents cover not only its designs, but some of the fundamental elements common to all of the chips.

In a case tried in Virginia last spring, the jury judged that Rambus had committed fraud by making claims on some types of chips, a decision that the US company is trying to have overturned in the US Court of Appeals.

The second-largest memory-chip maker, Micron Technologies Inc, is also refusing to pay royalties on some kinds of chips.

Industry leader Samsung Electronics Co and other DRAM makers have already signed licensing agreements with Rambus covering most types of DRAM chips.

Rambus-designed chips are used in Sony Corp's PlayStation2 video-game console and are found in about 300 electronic products that range from high-performance personal computers and servers to routers and switches used in computer networks.

The case has been closely watched by industry observers.