The U.S. Supreme Court provided a lift to Rambus Inc. today when a preliminary short list of cases it will hear this year failed to include a patent infringement appeal from Infineon Technologies AG.
Infineon had asked the Supreme Court to review a Circuit Court of Appeals decision that overturned a lower court ruling that the German chip maker did not violate Rambus' synchronous DRAM patents. The appellate court also threw out a jury finding of fraud against Rambus for failing to disclose its synchronous patents during an industry JEDEC standards body deliberation on the SDRAM standard.
The Supreme Court Tuesday (September 30, 2003) listed ten cases it will take up this year, which omitted any mention of the Infineon appeal. Legal sources said a complete list will be released next Monday of all cases the high court will hear and the cases turned down. Until then, it is not known if the Infineon appeal will officially be left from the Supreme Court roster.
"We will just have to wait and see when the final Supreme Court list comes out next week," said a spokeswoman for Rambus, Los Altos, California.
At stake is whether Infineon, and by precedent other DRAM makers that have refused to license Rambus patents for SDRAM and DDR devices, must pay royalties to the chip interface design firm.
If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the Infineon appeal, the case then would return to the original federal district court in Richmond, Virginia, for retrial. Although the lower court ruling that Infineon didn't infringe Rambus synchronous patents was overturned by the appellate court, the litigation would continue as to whether Infineon violated the patents.
Next week will also mark the end of the exhaustively long Federal Trade Commission antitrust trial against Rambus for allegedly failing to disclose its synchronous patent applications while a member of the JEDEC panel drafting the SDRAM standard. Closing arguments from both sides will be made October 8.