ITC backs Rambus with probe into 34 hardware companies

The International Trade Commission (ITC) has launched an investigation into 34 firms following a lawsuit by Rambus earlier this month.

The ITC is probing the companies to see if they have violated Section 337 of the 1930 Tariff Act, which prohibits the importation of products into the US that have been found to infringe another company’s patents.

Rambus filed a lawsuit on December 1 against LSI, MediaTek, STMicroelectronics, Broadcom, Freescale Semiconductor and Nvidia, claiming that the companies infringed its patents relating to PCI Express, Serial ATA, DDR, DDR2, DDR3, mobile DDR, and GDDR3 technology.

The ITC’s investigation goes much further than Rambus’ lawsuit. It includes the companies named above, along with dozens of others who utilise the Rambus patented technology, at least some of which can be found in most computers around the world.

The ITC is set to hold an evidentiary hearing at some point in the New Year, with a date for completion of the investigation expected within 45 days. A decision will then become final after a further 60 days. 

If the ITC rules in favour of Rambus, which it has done in the past in a case against Nvidia, many or all of the companies will be issued a cease and desist letter, which will prevent them from importing their products into the lucrative US market unless they licence the chip technology from Rambus.

The companies in question are: Freescale Semiconductor, Broadcom, LSI, Mediatek, Nvidia, STMicroelectronics N.V, STMicroelecronics, Inc., Asustek, Asus, Audio Partnership, Biostar Microtech (U.S.A.) Corp., Biostar Microtech International, Cisco Systems, Elitegroup Computer Systems, EVGA, Galaxy Micro Systems, Garmin International, G.B.T., Gigabyte Technology, Gracom Technologies, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, Jaton Corporation, Jaton Technology TPE, Micro-star International, MSI, Motorola, OPPO Digital, Palit Microsystems, Pine Technology Holdings, Seagate Technology, Sparkle Computer, Zotac International (MCO), and Zotac USA Inc.