MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Rambus Inc. here today denied charges of antitrust violations contained in a federal lawsuit filed on Monday by Micron Technology Inc. The suit also asserts that certain Rambus patents on synchronous DRAM technologies are invalid.
Micron's suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware, revolves around Rambus' efforts to collect extra royalties from chip makers for its patents on synchronous DRAMs, double data rate (DDR) memories, and controllers interfacing to those devices. Specific details about the suit and damages being sought by Micron were not yet available.
Boise, Idaho-based Micron on Monday said its lawsuit accuses Rambus of violating "antitrust laws and also asserts invalidity, non-infringement, and non-enforceability of Rambus patents pursuant to a number of different bases."
After receiving a copy of the suit, Rambus officials today fired back, accusing Micron of choosing litigation rather than nego tiation. Rambus said it had initiated negotiations with Micron for licensing of SDRAM and DDR technologies.
In the past two months, Rambus has stepped up its campaign to collect extra royalties on high-speed SDRAMs, DDR chips, and memory interfaces not conforming to the Direct Rambus memory architecture. During the summer, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company struck new licensing and royalty agreements for those patents with Oki Electric, Toshiba, and Hitachi. Rambus said these new agreements pay higher royalties than it collects for technology related to its Direct Rambus architecture.
Rambus officials have promised to pursue royalties for all types of fast DRAMs and controllers while the company continues to promote the Direct RDRAM format (see June 23 story). When patent licensing negotiations broke down with Infineon Technologies AG, Rambus filed suit for patent violations against the Munich DRAM maker (see Aug. 11 story). Infineon is fighting the suit in what many industry observers believe will be a key test case of Rambus' efforts to collect royalties for SDRAM patents.
But now Micron has tossed its weight into the legal battle. Some memory companies have complained that Rambus was acting unfairly allegedly patenting data it obtained while participating in standards meetings with the Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC). Rambus officials have denied those charges.
Last month, an ad hoc group of major memory firms, chip set makers and some system manufacturers held a meeting to draft a strategy for attacking Rambus' synchronous DRAM patents. One option considered was filing an antitrust complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). So far, the group has not followed through with any actions, leaving the fight up to individual companies.