As expected by many industry insiders, the Boise-based chip firm, Micron Technology, has filed a preemptive suit against Rambus Inc. Micron is charging antitrust violations and claiming the California company’s patents are illegally based on open standards discussions within the chip industry. Rambus patents cover basic technologies used in all existing SDRAM, including the control register governing the way memory chips connect to systems.
Micron is citing a 1996 antitrust consent decree signed by Dell Computer when the company agreed not to enforce patents that came out of open standards efforts. The company is seeking both damages and triple damages available for antitrust violations from Rambus. Hitachi raised the same points last May but the Japanese company settled with the technology licenser before a legal decision was reached. Infineon Technologies, currently being sued by Rambus, is expected to use the same arguments and to charge that the Rambus patents were wrongly awarded as the inherent technologies were contained in previously awarded patents. An industry-wide group, meeting privately for the last several months to discuss a joint effort against Rambus, has explored this strategy and reportedly will help those actually fighting Rambus in court.