MANHASSET, N.Y. Micron Technology Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Rambus Inc. in Milan, Italy, escalating the already bitter war between the companies.
In the latest move, Micron (Boise, Idaho) and its Italian subsidiary, Micron Technology Italia, S.r.l., are seeking more than $30 million in damages and interest relating to a preliminary patent infringement action initiated by Rambus (Los Altos, Calif.) in Sept. 2000. At the time, Micron had filed an antitrust suit against Rambus, attempting to prove that its SDRAM and double data-rate SDRAM patents were unenforceable.
Micron's latest suit alleges that Rambus wrongfully obtained an order to seize materials from a Micron facility in Avezzano, Italy, while knowing that a court in Monza, Italy, lacked jurisdiction over Micron. The complaint further alleges that the Monza court granted the order, at least in part, in reliance on Rambus misrepresentations, and that Rambus enforced the seizure order in bad faith, causing injury to Micron.
"We believe that Rambus abused the legal process, and that Micron is entitled to recover damages caused by Rambus' actions in Italy," said Rod Lewis, Micron's vice president of legal affairs and general counsel, in a statement.
The Monza judge ultimately ruled that Micron's memory products did not infringe the Rambus patent. The European Patent Office later invalidated and revoked the Rambus patent at issue in the Italy proceeding, and has preliminarily revoked two other Rambus patents on the basis that Rambus improperly attempted to expand the claims of the patents.
Separately, a court in London dismissed Rambus's patent infringement suit after the European Patent Office revoked the patent, and the court recently awarded Micron court costs.
The feud between the companies had already escalated earlier this week, when Micron filed suit against Rambus in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (see Feb. 21 story). Micron accused Rambus of "engaging in a pattern of destruction of evidence, false testimony and other improper activities designed to mislead courts and Micron and to extract unjust patent licensing fees or damages from Micron."
The suit was apparent retaliation for a suit Rambus filed against Micron last month (see Jan. 13 story), where Rambus accused Micron of infringing upon its DDR2, GDDR2 and GDDR3 patents.
In a late-breaking development, a San Francisco court Thursday afternoon released to Rambus much of the evidence showing that Micron and other chip makers conspired against Rambus by fixing prices and trying to eliminate competition.