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FTC finds Rambus unlawfully controlled computer chip market

[JURIST] PC hardware manufacturer Rambus [corporate website] unlawfully monopolized [press release] four markets for dynamic random access memory (DRAM) computer chips and deliberately withheld information about forthcoming patents on the technology from a technology-standards-setting group, according to an opinion released Wednesday by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In the unanimous commission opinion [PDF text], Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour wrote:

Rambus's conduct was calculated to mislead JEDEC [Joint Electron Device Engineering Council] members by fostering the belief that Rambus neither had, nor was seeking, relevant patents that would be enforced against JEDEC-compliant products...Under the circumstances, JEDEC members acted reasonably when they relied on Rambus's actions and omissions and adopted the SDRAM and DDR SDRAM standards.
The Joint Electron Device Engineering Council [official website] was established to ensure that technology standards do not incorporate patented technologies.

The FTC first brought an administrative complaint [FTC docket] against Rambus in 2002 for infringing antitrust laws. In 2004, an administrative law judge ruled against the FTC claim and the current decision came in an appeal to the full commission. An attorney for Rambus has said that the company will appeal the decision in federal appeals court. In the Order Reversing and Vacating the Initial Decision [PDF text], the FTC requested that the parties file supplemental briefs for the commission's remedy determination, which will include a fine against Rambus. CNET News has more.

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