WASHINGTON Rambus Inc. heads to trial on Wednesday (April 30) before a Federal Trade Commission judge as the company digs in to defend itself against antitrust charges brought by the agency last June.
FTC lawyers will argue that Rambus (Los Altos, Calif.) violated U.S. antitrust laws "by deliberately engaging in a pattern of anticompetitive acts and practices that served to deceive an industry-wide standard-setting organization," the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (Jedec).
The group was developing an industry SDRAM standard. The U.S. alleges that during the four years Rambus participated in Jedec's deliberations it concealed patents and pending patent applications involving specific technologies that eventually become part of Jedec's SDRAM spec. The alleged non-disclosure violated the group's rules, and FTC attorneys charged Rambus with violating U.S. antitrust laws.
Rambus has denied it deceived the Jedec group. It has als o continued to appeal an adverse 2001 ruling in a federal court brought by other Infineon Technologies AG and has steadfastly refused to settle the FTC complaint prior to this week's trial before Chief Administrative Law Judge James Timony.
"The fact that Rambus's founders believed they had conceived the inventions in question was public information," the company said in a pre-trial statement. "The inventions were described in detail in publicly available patent documents that were discussed at Jedec and that were closely scrutinized by engineers and lawyers employed by Jedec members."
In January, a federal appeals panel here reversed a lower-court ruling that Rambus had committed fraud. The decision also reversed a trial court ruling that Infineon hadn't infringed Rambus patents, sending the patent infringement issue back to the lower court.
Shareholders have also rallied on behalf of Rambus, accusing the FTC of harassing the company a nd urging lawmakers to call off the agency. Those efforts have so far attracted little congressional support.
The FTC trial could last from five to eight weeks.