Published in Memory
FTC loses appeal against Rambus
by David Stellmack on28 August 2008
Second appellate hearing denied
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has turned down the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s request for a second appeal in the FTC’s fight with Rambus over whether Rambus revealed enough about its patented technologies to standard-setting organization, JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Committee).
The FTC had petitioned the Court of Appeals for an en banc hearing, which would have empanelled a large panel of judges, but was denied its request.
The tiff with Rambus began when the FTC ordered Rambus to stop collecting some patent royalties, but then amended that order to allow the royalties to be collected, but held in an escrow account. The FTC order stated that the memory technology company Rambus, had not adequately revealed the nature of its patented technologies before the standard-setting organization, JEDEC, who establishes the industry standards.
JEDEC ended up advocating some of the contents of the Rambus patents as the new standard for all computer chips, thus potentially giving Rambus a monopoly in meeting the standard. When a company is found to have a monopoly on technology that is a standard it is a common practice for the standards-setting body to require modest licensing terms from that company.
In this case, the FTC claimed that Rambus had withheld critical patent information before the JEDEC standard was established.
Rambus expressed satisfaction that it had been in the right all along when the Court of Appeals issued its ruling against the FTC. The FTC said that it was reviewing its options and might try to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on an antitrust claim.