Rambus destroyed records that could have been evidence in
its patent dispute with Hynix Semiconductor, a U.S. judge
ruled, but the court has not yet decided on a penalty for
SK hynix said it is pleased with US District Judge Ronald
M. Whyte's ruling. Although the precise remedy for
Rambus's conduct remains to be decided the ruling
"substantially limits any royalties on Rambus's patents,"
SK hynix said. The company added it would continue to
vigorously defend itself in the litigation.
Judge Ronald Whyte of the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of California said in his ruling that
Rambus' patents should still be seen as valid.
Still, Rambus' destruction of evidence "should preclude it
from entitlement to a royalty that places Hynix at a
competitive disadvantage," Judge Whyte wrote in his ruling.
Both companies have been ordered to submit briefs to the
court on what they believe would be a reasonable royalty
rate for the patents.
The same judge had previously ordered Hynix to pay Rambus
around $397 million for infringing on dynamic random-access
memory (DRAM) patents.
"This is a positive result as it is consistent with what
we've been seeking all along - reasonable compensation for
the use of our patented inventions," said Thomas Lavelle,
senior vice president and general counsel at Rambus. "We
appreciate the Court's extensive efforts in working through
years of complex arguments. While this decision does not
provide SK Hynix with a going-forward license, we are
hopeful it will lead to putting this matter behind us
completely and allow us to reach reasonable agreements."
This case was originally filed by SK Hynix against Rambus
in August 2000. The case was split into three separate
phases with Rambus prevailing in all three phases. The
first phase considered SK Hynix's allegations that certain
Rambus patents should be unenforceable under the doctrine
of unclean hands and spoliation.
The second phase addressed Rambus' allegations that SK
Hynix memory products infringed its patents. The jury in
this phase upheld the validity of Rambus' patents and found
that SK Hynix memory products infringe all Rambus patent
claims in this case. The jury awarded Rambus damages in the
amount of $397 million.
In the third phase of the case, SK Hynix (together with
Micron and Nanya) alleged Rambus engaged in antitrust and
fraud during its participation in a standard-setting
organization called JEDEC in the early 1990s. A jury in
this case, again, found in favor of Rambus, finding it had
acted properly during its participation in JEDEC.
SK Hynix's appeal of these decisions led to a Court of
Appeals for the Federal Circuit 2011 ruling vacating the
NDCA court's final judgment and remanded the matter for