Lawsuit with Rambus, MU

Discussion in 'Stocks' started by bat1, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. bat1


    this is going to be big!

    Rambus Chip Trial Promises to Draw In CEOs

    SAN FRANCISCO--A high-stakes trial pitting Rambus Inc. against three chip makers—which could bring chief executives of some giant technology companies to the witness stand—is scheduled to begin opening maneuvers Wednesday.

    The case in San Francisco County Superior Court centers on allegations by Rambus that Micron Technology Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. illegally conspired to boycott technology developed by Rambus and took other actions to block its acceptance. It is hoping to win billions of dollars in damages from the case. The three companies deny the allegations.

    Rambus, of Los Altos, Calif., licenses patented technology that is used to accelerate the performance of memory chips, including products known as dynamic random-access memory, or DRAM, that are a mainstay of personal computers. The company's history has been marked by litigation, including patent battles with numerous chip makers and an antitrust case against the company by the Federal Trade Commission that was rejected by an appeals court.

    Michael Dell

    Judge Richard Kramer is expected to review pre-trial motions Wednesday, a Rambus spokeswoman said, adding that it is not clear when jury selection or opening arguments will begin.

    It is also not clear how long the trial will last, and how many witnesses the parties will be allowed to call. But the witness lists filed by the parties to the case have some big names.

    Rambus, for example, included Michael Dell, founder and chief executive of the big computer maker, and Steve Appleton, Micron's chief executive, among 144 witnesses on a list it filed with the court in December.

    Micron, meanwhile, listed Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel Corp.; Craig Barrett, Intel's former chairman and chief executive; Michael Splinter, chief executive of Applied Materials Inc., and a former Intel executive; Bruce Sewell, Apple Inc.'s general counsel, who previously held that position at Intel; Patrick Gelsinger, a longtime Intel executive vice president who recently took a senior job at EMC Corp.; and Andreas Bechtolsheim, a co-founder and longtime hardware designer for Sun Microsystems who is chairman and chief development officer of the startup Arista Networks Inc.

    Such lists tend to be exhaustive, and could be whittled down based on such factors as how much time the judge allows for the trial, said Michael Cohen, chief executive of MDC Financial Research, a firm that covers litigation events for institutional investors. "Some of them may or may not show up, some may be in video depositions," Cohen said.

    Paul Otellini

    Cohen said the judge has set aside two-and-a-half months for the trial on his calendar, while the defendants want five to six months.

    Rambus began working in the early 1990s to popularize a chip variant it called RDRAM, gaining backing from companies that include Intel. But RDRAM was later eclipsed by competing technologies that were backed by the defendants and other chip makers. By 2003, Intel and most other RDRAM supporters were backing away from the technology.

    A series of legal attacks have been made by legal opponents of the company, including allegations that Rambus improperly destroyed documents and illegally misled an industry standard-setting group into adopting Rambus technology without disclosing plans to patent it. Rambus has denied those charges, and has convinced several courts of its position.

    Several memory chip makers, including Samsung and Hynix, have settled government allegations of price-fixing--investigations that unearthed evidence of collusion Rambus hopes to exploit at the trial.

    Daniel Francisco, a Micron spokesman, issued a statement that summarizes the company's position and echoes arguments by other defendants.

    "We believe that Rambus' allegations are baseless," he said. He said the company looks forward to presenting evidence that will show that Intel and PC makers "ultimately chose DDR, an open standard memory solution, based on the technology and its cost advantages rather than Rambus' proprietary product."

    Write to Don Clark at