The Rambus SDRAM patent trial against Infineon Technologies was postponed last week after Rambus charged that a confidential planning document showed the then-Siemens Semiconductor division "deliberately copied" its technology.
Federal Judge Robert Payne delayed the trial to allow Rambus to take depositions from Infineon President Ulrich Schumacher and Willi Meyer, an engineering official of the firm, regarding a 1992 Siemens Semiconductor strategy session on how to combat Rambus.
The 1992 briefing was belatedly discovered on an old hard disk and the document was turned over to Rambus attorneys only at midnight last Friday. The specific document surfaced only this week after a transcript of last week's hearing resulting in the trial delay became available.
According to the transcript, David Monahan, Rambus lead attorney, characterized the Siemens Semiconductor document as showing the firm "was knowledgable of the Rambus technology, contrary to their sworn denials. They said 'We're going to make it public domain We're going to change some parts.' They deliberately copied and misappropriate the invention."
By contrast, the Infineon attorneys argued that the document supported their contention that Rambus had synchronous DRAM proprietary technology as early as 1992 that they failed to disclose to the JEDEC (Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council) open industry standards deliberations on SDRAM.
They denied the then-Siemens Semiconductor division or JEDEC copied any Rambus IP but rather developed an entirely different SDRAM specification. The specific portion of the 1992 Siemens Semiconductor session minutes discussed "the Rambus interface problem. And how Rambus created an integrated memory concept."
The minutes said, "A JEDEC committee on MOS memory has attempted for roughly a year to define a universally usable successor for the previous DRAM, the so-called synchronous DRAM (SDRAM).
"The original idea of SDRAM is based on the principles of a simple clock input (IBM toggle pin) and the complex Rambus structure. NEC (Rambus license holder) was first to suggest a leaner 'public domain' version based on this, synchronous controls, 2 bank, 4-field internal clock bus, 4-word register at the data output and possible low level interface (similar to GTL), while leaving off the proprietary Rambus control protocol.
"It has become clear that Rambus memory can easily be converted into a SDRAM (1 or 2 bank) or conventional DRAM," according to the document quoted by Monahan.
He also referred to a slide presentation by Meyer of Sept. 30, 1992 that referred to making this SDRAM design 'public domain.'
The transcript showed that the court ordered Rambus to take a deposition of Meyer last week, while Infineon President Schumacher was allowed to return to Germany on condition that his deposition would be taken this week.
The transcript released this week also revealed that even Rambus attorneys conceded that Judge Payne's narrow interpretation of the firm's SDRAM patent definitions would eliminate one Rambus patent.
However, attorney Monahan argued that three other SDRAM patents in the case aren't affected by the ruling.
Infineon asked that Judge Payne dismiss the case because the firm's SDRAMs don't use any of the multiplexed bus or read/write or block size specifications cited in the Rambus patents.
The judge said he wasn't open at that time to considering any more of the many motions for summary judgment filed by both sides, although he opened the door to possible consideration in the future.
Still pending also in the case is a federal court of appeals ruling on Rambus request for a Writ of Mandamus barring Judge Payne's waiver of attorney-client privilege to allow Infineon depositions on Rambus legal discussions on the JEDEC policy requiring disclosure of pending patents.