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SK Hynix Seeks New Trial in Rambus Chip Patent Case

SK Hynix Inc. is seeking a new trial in the memory-chip technology patent-infringement case that Rambus Inc. won in California six years ago.

SK Hynix today asked U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte in San Jose, California, in a filing to consider new evidence that it says invalidates some of Rambus’s patents at issue in the case. SK Hynix also requested a new trial.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington upheld Whyte’s previous denial of SK Hynix’s bid to throw out the 2006 verdict finding that the company infringed Rambus patents. It vacated a $397 million jury award against Ichon, South Korea-based SK Hynix, citing Rambus’s destruction of documents that might have been used as evidence in the case.

SK Hynix said in today’s filings that recent re-examinations by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences determined that two of Rambus’s 10 patent claims at issue in the lawsuit are invalid.

“In five 2012 decisions, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences has rendered invalid Rambus patent claims asserted against Hynix in this action and related claims that are not patentably distinct from the claims” in the California case before Whyte, according to a filing today. “To proceed with this litigation under those circumstances would be to reward Rambus for patents that, today, are invalid.”

Royalty Rates

Whyte last month ordered both companies to file proposals on how much Rambus should be paid in royalty rates. As a sanction for Rambus’s document destruction, the judge said he wouldn’t allow a Rambus royalty that is “in excess of a reasonable and non-discriminatory” amount, according to court documents.

SK Hynix’s filings today are “intended to delay the process of determining how much Hynix owes Rambus for patent infringement,” Linda Ashmore, a spokeswoman for Sunnyvale, California-based Rambus, said in an e-mailed statement.

Rambus expects the royalty rates Whyte asked for will be filed in November and is eager for the “decision process to move forward to determine how much we are entitled to receive as damages,” Ashmore said.

Rambus’s cases against SK Hynix, and another related case against Micron Technology Inc., 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. SK Hynix and Micron claimed Rambus destroyed records that would have proved Rambus misled the board that sets that standard.

The case is Hynix Semiconductor Inc. v. Rambus Inc., 00-cv-20905, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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