PATENT BULLY Rambus has suffered a blow in its never ending battle against hardware designers as the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has declared two of its patents invalid.
Rambus uses its patent portfolio to go after other chip designers including Intel and Nvidia, along with memory makers. But now the USPTO has declared that two patents Rambus wielded to win lawsuits against Nvidia and HP are invalid.
Previously, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Nvidia, HP and other firms were infringing two Barth I patents owned by Rambus. This led to Nvidia settling with Rambus.
While the USPTO declaration sounds like Nvidia and HP could be within a shout of getting some of their money back, if Rambus appeals the rejection in the US Count of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the patents will remain valid until the appeal is decided. In a statement to Reuters, Rambus said, "We are confident in the validity of our patents and are exploring our next steps to seek reversal of these decisions."
A decision on Rambus' third Barth I patent is expected within months. These patents were used by Rambus to accuse Broadcom, ST Microelectronics and Mediatek of infringement in an ITC complaint it filed nine months ago.
Rambus is well known for its aggressive litigation and is currently in a $4bn fight against DRAM manufacturers Hynix and Micron. The news that a couple of its patents have been declared invalid will please many in the industry who view Rambus as little more than a patent troll.
While the USPTO might have passed its judgement, it is unlikely that Rambus will let its two patents go without a fight. After all it is one of the few technology companies that has come out on top in the courtroom more than most. µ
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