Rambus Inc. (Nasdaq:RMBS) today announced developments last week in three separate litigation matters.
First, in an antitrust case brought last year by Rambus against several DRAM manufacturers, the California Superior Court for the City and County of San Francisco last Friday overruled a demurrer that had been jointly filed by defendants seeking dismissal of the case. The case is against Hynix, Micron, several of their subsidiaries and affiliates, and a number of unnamed co-conspirators. It alleges a continuing conspiracy beginning in the mid-to-late 1990s in which the defendant DRAM manufacturers conspired illegally, among other things, to share cost and pricing data and eliminate Rambus's RDRAM memory design from the market. Last week the United States Department of Justice announced that Hynix has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal conspiracy with other DRAM companies to fix prices during 1999-2002. The Justice Department also recently confirmed that Micron had reached an "amnesty" deal with the Department by cooperating in its investigation of the conspiracy.
In other proceedings in the Rambus antitrust case, the San Francisco court resolved certain issues relating to a draft protective order, directed the parties to meet and confer about other issues relating to that order, and ordered defendants to produce to Rambus all documents they had previously produced to the Department of Justice within 30 days from the entry of that protective order. The San Francisco court also set a further status conference on May 20, 2005 to consider, among other things, the order and timing of further discovery in that case and the indication of defendant Hynix that it will seek to compel arbitration in South Korea of the claims against it pursuant, it says, to the terms of the 1996 Rambus-Hynix RDRAM license.
In the Hynix v. Rambus patent case in the Northern District of California, Judge Ronald Whyte has tentatively denied Hynix's motion to dismiss the case, which had been based on the doctrine of collateral estoppel and on certain rulings and statements by another court. Oral arguments on this motion were held this past Friday in San Jose and the court thereafter took the issue under submission. No ruling has yet been issued on the motion.
In other proceedings in that case, the federal court in San Jose heard discussion of Rambus's efforts to restore newly-discovered data from computer back up tapes, directed the parties to work out procedures for production of responsive documents found on those tapes, directed the parties to advise the court on Wednesday, April 27, 2005, of any issues that the parties could not resolve, and set a May 20, 2005 status conference to discuss, among other things, the setting of new pretrial and trial dates.
In a third case, the patent case against Micron now pending in the District of Delaware, the Delaware court last week denied a motion by Micron seeking to schedule an early hearing on its spoliation allegations against Rambus and seeking to stay the rest of the case. Instead, the Delaware court suspended the current trial and pre-trial schedule in Delaware, consistent with one of the suggestions offered by Rambus, and directed that all discovery should continue. The Court also set a further status conference roughly 90 days out to, among other things, review progress in the Hynix case in California. The court also indicated that it would defer until the next status conference its consideration of a Rambus motion seeking leave to bring new patent cases against Micron, including its request to add Micron to the DDR2 case currently pending in California against multiple DRAM companies.
"We take very seriously the complexities and difficulties of these cases, and we continue to direct significant resources to the issues surrounding our newly discovered potential evidence," said John Danforth, senior vice president and general counsel at Rambus. "Overall, we are pleased with the events of last week and with the progress that we think they represent. We intend to continue to work though the complexities of these cases as expeditiously as we can - with the same goal as always, to be fairly compensated for our innovations and to seek appropriate redress for illegal conduct that has harmed us in the past."