It's been a while since we've heard anything about memory maker Rambus, but the company has come back into the light to sue Nvidia for patent infringement. Rambus thinks that Nvidia's use of SDR, DDR, DDR2, DDR3, GDDR, and GDDR3 SDRAM in their products violates 17 (count 'em... 17!) patents that Rambus owns. Those chips sit inside all sorts of Nvidia gear, and apparently Rambus has been trying for a settlement for years. Now it's using the legal system to claim cash for the damages. Bad news for Nvidia, but Rambus is still apparently trying "to continue discussions with Nvidia to reach a negotiated settlement." I bet. [BusinessWire]
Rambus is a parasite!
My old Ph.D supervisor was an expert witness in the Rambus-Hynix case. Some of the dirty tricks Rambus got up to in memory standards meetings may not have been illegal, but they were shameful.
Each member of the committee was suppose to declare if ideas they brought up for the next standard were patented. Rambus would propose ideas without disclosing that they'd patent the idea already. Their hope was to get Rambus IP put in to every memory product so that they could then sue!
They also would take their notebooks from each day's meeting (which included note on everyone's ideas) and fax them to their lawyers who would then file a provisional patent.
None these things were illegal (and they won the case against Hynix), but it did go against the rules and spirit of the inter-company standards committee. If you don't care about that, then you should realize that from the consumer's perspective it could lead to a Rambus tax on the memory that you buy and the products that contain memory.