Rambus Loses Ruling in Appeal of Document Destruction Case

A decision will stand that Rambus Inc. destroyed documents as it pursued patent-infringement claims against Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc., a U.S. appeals court said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, which ruled in May against Sunnyvale, California-based Rambus, rejected requests that the cases be reheard, according to a notice posted on the court’s website today.

Rambus, a chip designer that sues companies that refuse to license its technology, was slowed in its effort to extract royalties from Micron and Hynix because of allegations it got rid of potential evidence. The appeals court decision from May ordered the lower court judge in the Micron trial to reconsider the degree to which Rambus acted in bad faith and threw out a $397 million judgment against Hynix so the court in that case could also revisit the document-destruction issue.

The Federal Circuit also declined a petition by Ichon, South Korea-based Hynix that it reconsider its finding that upheld the liability portion of the verdict.

“While we are disappointed the Federal Circuit didn’t reconsider its decision regarding spoliation in the Micron case, we are pleased it confirmed the validity and infringement of our patents in the Hynix case,” Linda Ashmore, a spokeswoman for Rambus, said in an e-mail. “We are evaluating our options.”

Hynix is the world’s second-largest maker of computer-memory chips, trailing Samsung Electronics Co. Boise, Idaho-based Micron is the largest in the U.S.

Antitrust Lawsuit

The disputes with Micron and Hynix are over the companies’ use of interfaces that are part of dynamic random access memory that acts as the main memory in computers. DRAM is built to industry standards and is interchangeable by product. Hynix and Micron claimed Rambus got rid of papers that would have proved Rambus misled the board that sets that standard.

Rambus also has an antitrust lawsuit pending against the companies in a San Francisco court claiming at least $4.3 billion in damages. Rambus alleges that Micron and Hynix artificially inflated the price of Rambus-designed DRAM chips to drive Rambus technology out of the computer-memory market.

Rambus fell 48 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $13.88 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. It has dropped 32 percent this year. Micron fell 5 cents to $7.37.

The appeals are Micron Technology v. Rambus, 2009-1263, and Hynix Semiconductor v. Rambus, 2009-1299, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower-court cases are Micron Technology Inc. v. Rambus Inc., 00-cv-00792, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington) and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. v. Rambus Inc., 00-cv-20905, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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