Rambus executives—who were generally sketchy on the details of the ITC decision because the ITC has not yet made complete text of the decision public—also noted that the ITC ruling might help move forward concurrent litigation brought by Rambus and Nvidia in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Nvidia, by the way, plans to appeal the ITC decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, according to a company spokesperson. This could prolong the sage, though the limited exclusion and cease-and-desist orders issued by the ITC would presumably remain in place unless blocked by Obama, forcing Nvidia to sign the license agreement.
Rambus executives, for obvious reason, were hesitant to comment on the appeals process. But Thomas Lavelle, Rambus' senior vice president and general counsel, noted that the company has had a few cases before the federal court of appeals in the past and that the process "does take some time."
There is some reason to believe that Nvidia would be bound by signing a five-year licensing agreement with Rambus even if it wins on appeal during that timeframe. Lavelle said Rambus licensees typically have the option to opt out of a license agreement for convenience, but that this is not the case with the license agreement specified in the European Commission settlement.
As for how much revenue Rambus expects to generate, assuming Nvidia takes the license, Lavelle said the European Commission license stipulates that Rambus would command royalty rates of 2 percent of the total cost of each IC covered by the license, though the maximum average selling price of each chip is capped at $20. In other words, since Nvidia's chips typically sell for much more than $20, Rambus could expect to be paid a royalty of 40 cents apiece.
That could translate into a nice chunk of change for a company of Nvidia's size, though it's not immediately known exactly how many of Nvidia's chips were found to violate the patents. But clearly Rambus sees the revenue to be paid by Nvidia as just the first step, hoping that other firms take note of the ITC's decision and agree to come to the table.