Rambus v. Infineon
On March 1 Rambus Inc. and Infineon Technologies AG settled a five-year fight over processes used to make memory chips. Infineon will pay Rambus $46.8 million over the next two years for a worldwide license to Rambus's existing and future patents. If Rambus makes specified licensing agreements with other memory-chip manufacturers after November 15, 2007, Infineon then will make additional quarterly payments of $5.85 million, up to a maximum of $100 million. The deal ends an antitrust lawsuit and 18 other patent claims that Rambus had filed against Infineon in California state court, as well as lawsuits it filed in Europe.
Rambus had alleged that Infineon used its patented technology in SDRAM chips without a license. In 2001 U.S. district court judge Robert Payne in Richmond dismissed the company's infringement claims. After a trial on fraud countercharges brought by Infineon, a jury awarded Infineon $10.5 million in punitive damages and attorneys' fees. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed that decision, finding that Payne had wrongly defined the scope of the patent claims. On March 1 Payne threw out most of the infringement case for a second time. The two companies announced their settlement three weeks later.
Rambus still has patent infringement suits pending against four other chip makers: Hynix Semiconductor Inc.; Inotera Memories, Inc.; Micron Technology Inc.; and Nanya Technology Corporation.
For plaintiff Rambus Inc. (Los Altos, California)
In-house: General counsel John Danforth.
Munger, Tolles & Olson (Los Angeles): Steven Perry and Gregory Stone. Danforth had hired the firm previously.
Christian and Barton (Richmond): Craig Merritt, Michael Smith, and associate R. Braxton Hill IV. A Rambus employee had a personal connection with lawyers at the firm, says a Rambus spokeswoman.
For defendant Infineon Technologies AG (Munich, Germany)
In-house: Corporate counsel Michael Munn.
Kirkland & Ellis (Chicago): Gregory Arovas, John Desmarais, Thomas Pease, and associates Jeanne Heffernan, Richard Koehl, and Michael Stadnick. (All are in New York.) When the suit began, Infineon was still a subsidiary of Kirkland client Siemens AG.
McGuireWoods (Richmond): Brian Riopelle.
Kirkland had worked with the firm on a previous Infineon lawsuit against Hynix Semiconductor Inc.
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