Rambus Attacks Open Interfaces Again: DisplayPort, PCI Express, SATA

Rambus Demands ITC to Stop Import of Practically Every Electronic Product

by Anton Shilov
12/01/2010 | 08:54 PM

Rambus, a designer of memory and interface technologies, on Wednesday accused a list of companies of patent infringements again. The company accused the defendants of illegal usage of memory-related intellectual property and said that the semiconductor companies infringe its rights by implementing a number of widely used industrial standards. The tech designer demands ITC to stop importation of  chips that infringe its patents and products on their base.

 

The formal complaint of Rambus was filed with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) requesting the commencement of an investigation pertaining to products from Broadcom Corp., Freescale Semiconductor., LSI Corp., MediaTek, Nvidia Corp. and ST Microelectronics. The complaint seeks an exclusion order barring the importation and sales of products from the aforementioned companies that infringe certain patents from the Dally family of patents and Barth family of patents. Accused semiconductor products in the complaint include graphics processors, media processors, communications processors, chip sets and other logic integrated circuits (ICs).

Rambus also demands ITC to bar importation and sales of products based on chips that it believes infringe its patents. Apparently, the company wants to stop sales of almost all electronics available today, including personal computers, workstations, servers, routers, mobile phones and other handheld devices, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, motherboards, plug-in cards, hard drives and modems.

For the Dally patents, the accused semiconductor products from these companies include ones that incorporate PCI Express, certain Serial ATA, certain Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), and DisplayPort interfaces. Ironically, but Rambus became the exclusive licensee for the Dally family of patents as a part of its 2003 acquisition of technology and IP from Velio Communications, a company founded by William Dally, the chief scientist of Nvidia.

In the case of the Barth patents, the accused semiconductor products include ones that incorporate DDR, DDR2, DDR3, mobile DDR, LPDDR, LPDDR2, and GDDR3 memory controllers.

“Rambus has invested hundreds of millions of dollars developing a portfolio of technologies that are foundational for many digital electronics. There is widespread knowledge within the industry about our patents including their use in standards-compatible products accused in these actions. In fairness to our shareholders and to our paying licensees, we take these steps to protect our patented innovations and pursue fair compensation for their use," said Harold Hughes, president and chief executive officer at Rambus.

The ITC is expected to decide whether to initiate an investigation under this complaint within 30-45 days.

Rambus today also filed separate actions for patent infringement against Broadcom, Freescale, LSI, MediaTek and STMicroelectronics in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuits allege that semiconductor products with certain memory controllers and/or serial links from the above companies infringe certain patents from the Farmwald-Horowitz, Barth, and Dally patent families. In the case of MediaTek, only infringement of the Barth and Farmwald-Horowitz patents for certain memory controllers is alleged. Rambus also filed an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Nvidia for infringement of certain Dally patents. The categories of accused semiconductor products in the District Court complaints include the same categories accused in the ITC complaint, as well as SDR memory controllers. Rambus is seeking injunctive relief.

“We have been attempting to license these companies for some time to no avail. One of the respondents frankly told us that the only way they would get serious is if we sued them. Others pursued a strategy of delay rather than negotiate a reasonable resolution,” said the chief exec of the company that probably believes it has legal rights on every piece of electronics on the planet.