Rambus, Nvidia settle lawsuits, sign IC patent deal

The companies settle past lawsuits and enter into a five-year patent agreement

Rambus and Nvidia have settled past lawsuits and signed a patent agreement covering a broad range of integrated circuit products, Rambus said on Wednesday.

Under the patent agreement, Nvidia will be able to use Rambus technology in its products. The patent agreement is for five years. A Rambus spokeswoman declined to provide financial terms of the agreement.

The agreement also covers all outstanding legal disputes between the two companies, said Robert Sherbin, a Nvidia spokesman.

Rambus originally filed a lawsuit against Nvidia in 2008, alleging the graphics chip vendor infringed on 17 patents owned by Rambus. The patents related to SDR (single-data rate), DDR (double-data rate) and GDDR (graphics double-data rate) memory controllers. In a countersuit filed shortly after, Nvidia alleged that Rambus had "shoplifted an industry standard relating to the manufacture of common forms of dynamic random access memory."

The license agreement also covers all patents that required Nvidia to take out a license made accessible through a ruling by the European Commission against Rambus, Sherbin said. The Commission accused Rambus of charging abusive royalties for DRAM patents, a charge that was settled by the parties in 2009. Rambus and Nvidia in 2010 signed a patent license agreement that complied with the Commission settlement.

Rambus has sued numerous companies that it claims violated its memory patents and chipset technologies. The company has settled and signed license agreements with companies like Samsung, but has also suffered setbacks. In November a jury in California rejected a US$4 billion antitrust claim by Rambus against rivals Hynix Semiconductor and Micron Technology after a long-running dispute.

Rambus' competitors have alleged that the company deceived members of standards organization the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) by not disclosing its memory patents while working with JEDEC to create DRAM standards. Over the last few years, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has also rejected a number of Rambus patents that were mentioned in lawsuits.

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