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FTC asks Supreme Court to review Rambus case

Posted: 27 Nov 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:anticompetitive behaviour  memory technologies  IP vendor 

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision and restore the FTC's original finding of anticompetitive behaviour against memory technology vendor Rambus Inc.

The FTC Monday (Nov. 24) filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, seeking review of an April decision by the U.S. District of Columbia Court of Appeals. That decision found that the FTC failed to demonstrate that actions by Rambus harmed competition.

The FTC issued an order in February 2007 that set maximum royalty caps for some Rambus memory technologies and ordered the IP vendor to establish internal procedures to ensure full disclosure of its patents and patent applications to standards groups.

That order was overturned on April 22 of this year by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which remanded the matter back to the FTC. Since then, the FTC has reversed course to conform with the Court of Appeals' decision, ordering in August that Rambus could receive additional royalties as per contractual obligations.

Though the FTC was complying with the Court of Appeals' order, its commissioners apparently continued to believe Rambus had engaged in anticompetitive behaviour and should be punished. The commissioners voted four to zero to authorise the Office of General Counsel to file the petition with the Supreme Court.

A spokesman for the FTC declined to comment further about the reasons behind the Supreme Court filing, referring to a statement issued by the FTC Monday.

Tom Lavelle, senior vice president and general counsel at Rambus, said in a statement that Rambus was not surprised the FTC sought the involvement of the Supreme Court.

In March of this year, a Federal District Court jury found that Rambus did not engage in anticompetitive conduct and did not commit fraud, mislead or make misrepresentations to to standards-setting organisation Jedec, Rambus said.

The FTC said it filed a petition for rehearing with the appeals court following the April ruling, which the appeals court denied.

The FTC brought antitrust charges against Rambus in 2002. The FTC eventually found Rambus liable for violating Section 2 of the Sherman Act.

The FTC originally imposed royalty caps of 0.25 per cent for SDRAMs, 0.5 per cent for DDR SDRAMs, 0.5 per cent for SDRAM memory controllers or other non-memory chip components; and 1percent for DDR SDRAM memory controllers or other non-memory chip components. The maximum rates were to be in effect for three years.

-Dylan McGrath
EE Times





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