Re: [SI-LIST] : Rambus patent posturing - what gives?

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From: Adrian Shiner ([email protected])
Date: Mon Mar 27 2000 - 11:13:36 PST

It is amazing how many times the wheel barrow and the wheel get new patent
cover in various countries. Do not be afraid of lawyers, their logic does
not stand up to the mathematical definition of logic. Aks two lawyers the
same question (does 1 +1 = 2 ) and you will get two answers "Maybe" and
"Probably". Standards committees in Europe (of which I am a member of
several) do not work on specific design detail in general (from a safety &
many other viewpoints), only the functional requirements. This is simply to
avoid being design specific and stifling innovation &
competition...Microsoft and Intel readers please note. If we think about
communications standards, my industry colleagues in the USA have been the
most reluctant to standardise, no criticism, just fact. The good thing going
on is that EU standards are being used as valid & generally accepted bases
for making ISO & IEC standards. In some years, the rest will disappear,
including the EU standards; I'm not taking any bets, that is a fact.

Best wishes


----- Original Message -----
From: "Andrew Phillips" <[email protected]>
To: "SI-list" <[email protected]>
Sent: 27 March 2000 09:00
Subject: [SI-LIST] : Rambus patent posturing - what gives?

> Interesting little war going on lately regarding Rambus patents on
> memory technologies. Now Hitachi is fighting back. Anyone know more
> about whether Rambus's claims have any substance? How often does this
> kind of stuff get in the way of standards committees like Jedec?
> Cheers,
> Andrew Phillips
> Supercomputing Systems AG
> Zurich Switzerland
> High-Speed Digital Design Topics - help build a useful, peer-reviewed
> design info source.
> Hitachi's reply to Rambus: you violated antitrust act, Jedec rules
> By Jack Robertson
> Semiconductor Business News
> (03/24/00, 07:58:45 PM EDT)
> WASHINGTON -- Hitachi Ltd. today charged in a U.S. district court
> that Rambus Inc. has violated the Sherman Antitrust
> Act with its exclusionary patent policy and campaign to intimidate
> semiconductor producers and their OEM customers.
> Hitachi filed a counteraction in the Wilmington, Del., federal
> court asking that Rambus patents on IC synchronous timing
> techniques be thrown out. (Hitachi also filed a motion asking that
> the Rambus case be transferred from the Wilmington court
> to the federal district court in northern California.) The
> Japanese firm said the Rambus patents cover prior inventions and also
> usurped technical details that Rambus picked up from participating
> in industry Jedec (Joint Electron devices Engineering
> Council) standards meetings.
> Rambus filed suit Jan. 18 charging Hitachi with infringing its
> chip timing patents, and last Thursday carried the dispute to the
> U.S. International Trade Commission, seeking to bar the import of
> Hitachi semiconductors into this country. Sega Enterprises
> of Japan was added as defendant in the ITC case because the
> electronic game player uses the Hitachi SH microprocessor,
> which Rambus claims violates its patents (see March 23 story).
> The Hitachi brief alleged that Rambus filed its patent suit only a
> day after an industry alliance of Intel Corp. and the five
> largest DRAM makers announced "they would develop an alternative
> competitive synchronous DRAM interface technology.
> Rambus has used its lawsuits to assert that [synchronous] products
> compatible with the Jedec standards infringe Rambus
> patents, making Rambus technology the dominant, if not sole
> standard in the industry.
> "If Rambus has its way, there will be no competition in the
> technology market for synchronous DRAM technology or in the
> market for SDRAM memory and logic ships," the brief said. "Rambus'
> anticompetitive actions are attempting to suppress
> industry acceptance of anything but Rambus proprietary technology,
> amid concerns that the alternatives might not be
> available in the face of potential patent infringement problems."
> Hitachi charged that Rambus licenses for its Direct RDRAM design
> also require chip firms to license other technology under
> threat of not getting rights to the memory chip. The Japanese
> company charged that these actions have violated the antitrust
> provisions of the Sherman Act.
> Hitachi asks the court to nullify the Rambus synchronous chip
> patents, citing prior inventions in the industry. The brief also
> said that Rambus participated in industry Jedec standards meetings
> in the mid-1990s involving synchronous ICs, and gained
> access to technology it later patented in violation of Jedec
> open-standard rules.
> "Rambus took advantage of the information it learned from the
> participation at the Jedec committee meetings, and from the
> proposed standards then under discussion. Rambus used that
> information to revise secretly its then-pending but undisclosed
> patent applications and to prepare related additional applications
> to cover the very technology and potential standards being
> discussed by other JEDEC participants," the brief claimed.
> "If Rambus' lawsuits are successful, Rambus will have succeeded in
> converting the Jedec standards setting process from a
> procompetitive process to one that will serve anticompetitive
> ends," the document alleged.
> Hitachi also charged Rambus with violating Jedec policy in not
> disclosing that it was seeking patents on synchronous
> technology under discussion. The brief cited Jedec rules that
> require all participating firms to disclose patent applications that
> might conflict with any Jedec standard under discussion.
> It said that courts have overturned patents by Dell Computer Corp.
> that had been withheld from Jedec standards deliberations
> in 1995. In addition, Dell signed an antitrust consent decree with
> the Federal Trade Commission for failing to disclose its
> patents, the brief said. The document added that one month after
> the Dell antitrust consent decree, Rambus left Jedec, telling
> the industry body that Rambus "plans to continue to license its
> proprietary technology on terms that are consistent with its
> business plan."
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