updated 05:50 pm EST, Fri January 27, 2012
USPTO rules last of 3 core Rambus patents invalid
Rambus' litigation campaign suffered a possibly fatal setback Friday after the USPTO pushed word that it had invalidated the final patent out of three the company has been using to sue a large part of the technology industry. Having quietly made the decision on Tuesday, the patent office's appeals board left Rambus without any of the patents it has been using to sue NVIDIA, Hynix, HP, and others. The first two had been scrapped in September.
Rambus was considering appealing the decision, but would only say that it was "evaluating" what it could do.
Although an actual product designer, unlike many who launch massive patent lawsuit campaigns, Rambus has increasingly depended more and more on its lawsuits rather than its creative output. It has often been accused by its targets of being duplicitous with patents, joining the JEDEC standards body for memory only to secretly patent some of what it learned and later profit from unsuspecting JEDEC members.
If the invalidation is upheld, numerous technology companies may directly and incidentally benefit from the move. Rambus has successfully extracted ongoing royalties from some of those it has targeted, leading component companies like Broadcom, NVIDIA, and others to factor in the cost for the prices they give mobile and PC designers that in turn get passed on to users. Companies may also have less anxiety about developing memory techniques independently while still facing a possible Rambus lawsuit.