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Rambus accused of fraud

Couldn't have happened to a nicer company

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Image credit: Eurogamer

The court battle between Rambus and Europe's biggest memory manufacturer Infineon took an interesting new turn last night, as a judge ruled that Infineon could proceed with charges of fraud against Rambus. The American company has been trying to force rival memory manufacturers to pay licensing fees for technology used in SDRAM and DDR memory for some time now, and several major companies have caved in after threats of legal action while Infineon, Micron and Hyundai fought Rambus in the courts.

However, during the Infineon case new evidence has been uncovered which seems to show that Rambus abused its place on the JEDEC open standards group that came up with the SDRAM specifications in 1997, allegedly changing a patent for its own RDRAM memory (as used by the Pentium 4 and PlayStation 2) to include technology which it knew would be part of the SDRAM standard. This led to the judge in the Infineon vs Rambus case throwing out all of Rambus' patent claims last week, and according to a report in the Financial Times yesterday he has now allowed Infineon to proceed with their own counter-claim of fraud against Rambus under the bizarrely named "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act".

There's still a long way to go, and you can be sure that the only real winners in this battle will be the lawyers, but if Infineon do win the case it could result in Rambus having to pay a hefty fine. It would also effectively mark the end of Rambus' attempts to force the rest of the $30bn memory industry to pay it royalties on SDRAM, and could even lead to demands for licensing fees which have already been paid to be refunded. Needless to say this is a serious blow for Rambus, who stand to make more from SDRAM licensing fees than from selling their own relatively unpopular RDRAM, and over the last three months the company's share price has slid from a high of around $50 to just $13.50 at the time of writing.

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