Rambus calls foul on Micron and Hynix

Rambus was in court again, only this time it was not suing someone for violating its patents.

According to Reuters, Rambus’s laywer Sean Eskovitz was making the more interesting claim that Micron and Hynix had conspired to squelch his outfit’s superior chip technology and keep it from becoming an industry standard.

Of course Micron and Hynix are claiming that “RDRAM” memory chip technology failed because it was inferior and Rambus is looking for someone to blame.

The war between the three has been going on for years. Rambus is suing to claim some $3.95 billion in lost profits. That figure was scaled back from $4.38 billion after Rambus accepted the defendants’ arguments that discounts would have applied.

Eskovitz said that Rambus should have won the race with its RDRAM chip, but the defendants cheated by conspiring to lower their prices and drive Rambus out of the market.

Rambus has also moaned that Micron and Hynix boycotted its memory technology and that Samsung also joined in to restrict production and raise the price of Rambus chips in favour of its own technology.

Samsung is out of the picture now because Rambus settled its antitrust claims with the outfit in a deal worth $900 million.

Eskovitz showed the court memos from Intel saying Rambus’s technology was superior. And he played video of Micron chief sales executive Mike Sandler admitting that he had had “improper” conversations with Hynix.

In a US Department of Justice hearing, Hynix pleaded guilty to price-fixing, he pointed out.

Micron and Hynix deny any anticompetitive conduct and say Rambus had encountered technical and design problems that prevented the technology’s wider adoption.

Intel gave up on Rambus’s RDRAM in 1999 in favor of SDRAM – before the alleged collusion against Rambus had taken place. SDRAM became the widely adopted industry standard.

Hynix attorney Kenneth Nissly told the court that Rambus’s choices doomed the product.

As a result Rambus was unable to compete fairly and decided to take up a new life as a patent troll. We have to admit that this does tend to cause Rambus to lose a lot of sympathy.