WASHINGTON -- Rambus Inc. was reprimanded for "blatant judge shopping" in an official ruling at the U.S. International Trade Commission and restrictions imposed on the DRAM designer if it ever filed another synchronous DRAM patent complaint at the trade body.
ITC Administrative Law Judge Sidney Harris ruled that when Rambus abruptly withdrew its patent violation case against Hyundai Electronics Industries Co. assigned to him, the company was engaged in "judge shopping" because the firm didn't want him to handle the case. Legal sources said Harris has a reputation for being a tough magistrate and has been known frequently to rule against patents of firms filing complaints.
Rambus filed to withdraw its ITC patent suit against Hyundai soon after Harris was assigned the case. In his ruling Harris said when Rambus filed its petition the firm had expected to have its case heard before Administrative Law Judge Paul Luckern, who was next in the rotatio n of assignments to be assigned a new ITC complaint. However, at the last minute The ITC assigned Luckern to hear another case, so the Rambus petition went before Harris.
"The facts and circumstances in this investigation...appear to show a blatant instance of judge shopping," Harris ruled.
In documents filed in the case, Rambus denied it was guilty of judge shopping. The firm said it withdrew the complaint based on confidential strategic factors. Judge Harris rejected the Rambus response as vague allegations of litigation strategy, which is not described in detail and not even mentioned in the original motion to withdraw the case. It constitutes a failure to rebut the strong inference of judge shopping, he ruled. The claim of "privileged" litigation strategy is highly improbable, the judge added, saying that "Rambus has engaged in impermissible judge shopping."
Harris ruled that if Rambus in the future ever filed a new synchronous patent infringement case against Hyundai, or even any other fi rm, such a petition must be assigned to his court if he is able to hear it.