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Few Silicon Valley companies inspire a wider range of emotions than the computer chip designer Rambus, Inc. In the view of its leaders—as well as fiercely loyal shareholders who have flown around the country to watch its lawyers in court—the company is a visionary turned victim. Rambus revolutionized the computer industry in the 1990s, they say, when the company debuted state-of-the-art chip technology and licensed it to chip manufacturers. Rambus hasn’t been fairly compensated for those innovations, its defenders maintain, because rivals copied the technology and refused to pay up. Confronted with brazen collusion and theft, Rambus had no choice but to seek relief in court by suing its rivals.

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