Appeals court vacates fraud judgment in Rambus case

A split decision by a panel of U.S. appeals court judges has thrown out a fraud judgment against memory chip designer Rambus Inc., saying there was not enough evidence to convict the company of fraudulently seeking to influence a standards body into adopting its patented memory technologies as industry standards.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found Thursday that a lower court correctly overturned one jury verdict that found Rambus guilty of fraud for trying to get patents on DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) while it was participating on a standards committee for that technology.

However, the appeals court said the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia improperly allowed a separate verdict charging Rambus with fraudulently seeking patents on SDRAM technology when there was not enough evidence to support either claim.

The case will now go back to the lower court to decide how attorney's fees will be allocated. Rambus originally filed suit against rival memory vendor Infineon Technologies AG alleging Infineon infringed on several of Rambus' patents for DDR SDRAM and SDRAM technology. In 2001, Judge Robert E. Payne threw out Rambus' claims of patent infringement, and a jury found the company liable for fraud.

Rambus obtained patents on SDRAM technology in the early 1990s, and later participated in standards-setting discussions with the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council. In 2000, Rambus sued several DRAM vendors for infringing upon those patents.

Rambus made a copy of the appeals court's decision available on its Web site Thursday.

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