LOS ALTOS, Calif.--Firing back on the legal front, Rambus Inc. Wednesday (May 5) filed an anti-trust suit against Hynix Semiconductor, Infineon Technologies, Micron Technology and Siemens AG.
The suit, filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, claims these companies are engaged in a "concerted and unlawful effort to eliminate competition and stifle innovation in the market for computer memory technology and computer memory chips."
It also claims that these companies limited the marketplace in terms of DRAM technologies, especially for the adoption of Rambus' RDRAM memory interface.
This represents the latest in a series of disputes that concern Rambus. In recent times, Rambus, Hynix, Infineon and Micron have filed various suits against each other over memory-related patents. Rambus itself has been involved in an anti-trust suit with the FTC, which was dismissed but later appealed.
Rambus' new, 36-page complaint asserts four causes of action against the companies:
*Conspiracy to restrict output and fix prices in violation of the Cartwright Act.
*Conspiracy to monopolize in violation of the Cartwright Act.
*Intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.
*Unfair competition in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 17200.
"From substantial written evidence already in the public record, we believe that these memory manufacturers colluded illegally, thereby limiting consumer choice and depriving our RDRAM products of the opportunity to compete fairly in the marketplace," said John Danforth, senior vice president and general counsel for Rambus, in a statement.
Micron has not seen the suit but would defend any lawsuit vigorously, said Dave Parker, director of corporate communications.
"Rambus failed in the marketplace because of excessive manufacturing costs and minimal RDRAM demand," Parker said in a statement. "Several memory manufacturers, including the world's largest, continue to produce RDRAM products sufficient to meet its limited, worldwide market demand. It is unfortunate that Rambus is trying to blame the market failure of its RDRAM technology on others, like Micron, who ultimately responded to marketplace demands," he said.
"We believe Rambus is attempting to deflect attention away from the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) ongoing suit against Rambus for alleged antitrust violations," added Parker.
In its suit against Rambus, the FTC has alleged that Rambus intentionally deceived others in the DRAM industry, including Micron, to subvert an open-industry standard-setting organization known as JEDEC. The FTC has alleged that Rambus, as part of its anticompetitive scheme, deliberately failed to disclose critical information to the standards group in an attempt to gain a monopoly over the DRAM industry and extort exorbitant royalties from DRAM manufacturers and consumers.