March 11, 2009, 9:10 AM — Hynix Semiconductor said it plans to appeal a ruling that handed Rambus a wide victory in its attempts to collect patent royalties from DRAM makers.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered Hynix to pay Rambus damages and fees totaling US$397 million for the use of its patents in DRAM chips.
The company also has to pay Rambus royalties of 1 percent on every SDRAM (synchronous DRAM) chip made after Dec. 31, 2005, and 4.25 percent on every DDR DRAM (double data rate) chip, including graphics DDR, made after that time, according to a copy of the court ruling.
In a statement on Wednesday, Hynix said it will appeal the ruling.
The fight between the two companies is part of a larger battle between Rambus and other DRAM manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics and Micron Technology. Rambus alleges the companies owe it royalties on patented technology that was ultimately used in a DRAM chip design created by a standards group and adopted by the DRAM industry. The standard was created to ensure the memory chips work with other parts inside computers and to simplify design and manufacturing processes.
DRAM manufacturers argue that Rambus misled the standards group by not divulging its patent applications when the standards were being created, and therefore should be paid no royalties. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request by the Federal Trade Commission to resurrect an antitrust case against Rambus based on the allegations.
In the case just finished, Judge Ronald Whyte upheld an earlier finding by a jury that Rambus did nothing wrong.
Hynix said it is appealing because Rambus allegedly destroyed evidence, in this case documents and emails related to the case, and because the California ruling conflicts with contrary judgements in U.S. District Courts in Delaware and Virginia.
"Hynix does not expect that the judgment will have any impact on its business operations while the case continues," the company said in a Wednesday statement.