Rambus Says May 2 Patent Trial Date Is Voided by Judge

Rambus Inc. said its May 2 date for a trial on patent-infringement claims against Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and two other chipmakers was vacated by a federal judge in San Jose, California.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte ruled today that the trial should wait until after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington decides related cases, said Linda Ashmore, a Rambus spokeswoman. He scheduled a case management hearing for the second Friday after the appeals court ruling, she said in a telephone interview.

Rambus, the Sunnyvale, California-based designer of high- speed computer-memory chips, has sued companies that refused to license its patents, including Ichon, South Korea-based Hynix, the world’s second-largest memory-chip maker; Boise, Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc. and Taoyuan, Taiwan-based Nanya Technology Corp.

The defendants in the San Jose lawsuit had asked Whyte to delay the trial until after the Washington court rules, while Rambus favored keeping the May 2 trial.

The appeals court is weighing two cases with the same issues: when Rambus had to begin preserving documents that it might be required to give its opponents in litigation and the legal standard for determining that date.

Rambus’s patent claims cover DRAM chips, or dynamic random access memory. Whyte set the May 2 trial date anticipating the appeals court in Washington would already have issued rulings, according to court documents.

A judge in a Micron case in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, ruled 12 Rambus patents unenforceable as punishment for document destruction. In the second case, Hynix is appealing a ruling in which Whyte rejected similar arguments and allowed a trial to proceed, leading to a $397 million judgment in Rambus’s favor.

The case is Rambus Inc. v. Hynix Semiconductor Inc., 5:05-cv-00334, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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