MANHASSET, N.Y. A decision in the long and bitter patent lawsuit by Rambus Inc. against Hynix Semiconductor Inc. is expected to be rendered in the near future, perhaps as early as next week, according to sources close to the case.
A spokesman for Rambus (Los Altos, Calif.) said closing arguments in the case were aired in the U.S. District Court in San Jose Thursday (April 13). On Friday (April 14), the jury deliberated the case, but it did not render a verdict, according to the sources.
Rambus officials indicated that a verdict could be rendered next week. Both the spokesman and John Ward, an attorney for Silicon Valley-based Greenburg Traurig LLP familiar with the case, stated that a verdict might be delayed until early next week if the jury could not come to a decision Friday.
The spokesman said Rambus was seeking up to $868 million in damages from the South Korean memory chip supplier for infringing patents related to SDRAM, DDR, and DDR2 memory.
The case was filed in 2000 when Rambus accused Hynix of infringing the memory patents, filed by the company’s founders Mike Farmwald and Stanford University Professor Mark Horowitz in the early 1990s.
According to the spokesman, Rambus attorney Greg Stone told the jury during testimony that Hynix had chosen not to pay royalties to Rambus because it believed a years-long legal battle would costs less money.
Hynix fired back by stating the Rambus patents do not cover its memory chips.
"This issue is not whether they invented something, but what did they invent and how broad is it," Hynix attorney Dan Furniss reportedly said before the jury.
Stone told the jury Rambus would seek to be compensated for the royalties it would have received if Hynix signed a licensing agreement rather than fight in court.
The stage for Friday’s showdown was set in January, when U.S. District Court Ronald Whyte dismissed a notion by Hynix to dismiss Rambus’ suit. Whyte ruled "Rambus did not engage in unlawful spoliation of evidence," allowing Rambus to argue the merits of its patent infringment claims against Hynix.
"This is a pivotal case in Rambus' business plan," said Ward. "A victory would induce more settlements and licensees to work with them."
A Court ruling in Rambus' favor would sharpen the blow to Hynix, already reeling from the DRAM price-fixing scandal it and other memory suppliers, including Samsung, Infineon, Elpida, and Micron have admitted to taking part in.
In early March, four Hynix executives pleaded guilty to the Dept. of Justice for conspiring to fix prices of DRAM chips. The executives were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 5 to 8 months and agreed to pay $250,000 fines each.
Meanwhile, the tide has been turning in Rambus' favor. In February, a San Francisco court judge ordered documents in the Rambus antitrust hearings turned over to Rambus for possible submission as evidence, in an apparent victory in the company’s quest to prove rival chip makers colluded to fix prices and engage in other anti-competitive practices.