Court documents indicate DRam price-fixing

E-mail messages written by executives at suppliers of DRams (dynamic Rams) indicated that the companies conspired to set memory...

E-mail messages written by executives at suppliers of Drams (dynamic Rams) indicated that the companies conspired to set memory prices and production levels, according to court documents.

The documents point to actions taken by DRam suppliers such as Micron Technology, Infineon Technologies, Samsung and Hynix Semiconductor to set prices in the hopes of killing off a rival standard designed by Rambus.

The US Department of Justice is investigating the suppliers on charges of antitrust violations. The e-mail messages stem from a separate FTC case charging Rambus with unfair competition that was dismissed this week.

The suppliers have been involved in litigation for years over charges that Rambus improperly influenced a memory standards-setting body into adopting patented Rambus technology into the SDram (synchronous Dram) and DDR (double data rate) SDram standards.

But several recent court rulings have upheld Rambus' claims that the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council's (JEDEC's) policies did not specify the method in which Rambus was required to disclose its patents.

Those decisions clear the way for patent infringement lawsuits on behalf of Rambus against the suppliers.

Evidence disclosed in the FTC ruling gives Rambus' lawyers ammunition to push claims that the DRam industry worked together against Rambus and Intel to ruin the market for Rambus' memory technology.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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