Rambus settles patent infringement suit with SK Hynix

Rambus is to get a total payment of US$240 over a period of five years

Rambus has signed a US$240 million patent licensing agreement with SK Hynix, ending a nearly 13-year patent dispute between the two companies over memory-chip technology.

The five-year agreement settles all outstanding disputes with SK Hynix, Ron Black, president and CEO of Rambus, said during a conference call on Tuesday.

The agreement is part of Rambus' strategy to collaborate with industry to develop innovative technologies and possibly drive standards. The company which has indicated its preference to settle rather than litigate, however said it would if required "aggressively defend our IP."

Under the agreement, SK Hynix gets a five-year license to Rambus' memory and interface patents, and a fully paid up license going forward for some selected DRAM products, Black said. In return, SK Hynix will be paying Rambus $12 million per quarter for the next five years, starting from the third quarter of this year.

Other terms of the agreement are confidential, Rambus said. SK Hynix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rambus continues to have patent disputes in the area of DRAMs with Micron Technology and with STMicroelectronics over system-on-chip technology. It previously signed patent licensing agreements with a number of companies including LSI, Fujitsu Semiconductor, MediaTek, Nvidia and Samsung, some of which were in settlement of patent disputes. The company said it looked forward to signing agreements with Micron and STMicroelectronics.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division in May imposed a monetary sanction on Rambus for $250 million for spoliation of evidence, in a case filed by SK Hynix, then Hyundai Electronics Industries, in August 2000. SK Hynix sought a declaratory judgment that certain Rambus patents were invalid, unenforceable, or not infringed, while Rambus countersued for patent infringement.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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