The disputes between semiconductor maker Micron and technology licensing company Rambus have extended well beyond the last decade and largely surround antitrust and patent battles. Dating back to legal proceedings concerning antitrust charges brought against Micron, the rivals in the memory market have spent 13 years in the courtroom. December 10 marks the end of their legal pursuit of one another in a deal that will deliver $280 million to Rambus over the next seven years.
Micron will now have the rights to use Rambus’ patents in its memory chip technology in exchange for quarterly royalty payments capped at $10 million.
Part of the history behind the two companies’ legal disputes is marked by Rambus’ DRAM technology, which it once claimed was being edged out of the market by Micron’s price fixing. Since then, the litigation has centered on how broad Rambus’ intellectual property extends within the scope of the DRAM market. The December 10 decision between the two companies gives Micron access to Rambus’ patents for the manufacturing of integrated circuit products and memory products. After the seven-year term expires, Micron will have the option to renew its licensing agreement.
Rambus has not gotten through 13 years of IP litigation unscathed; many in the industry consider it a patent troll. But, regardless, the company boasts an impressive roster of semiconductor manufacturer licensees to which it now adds Micron. Additional chipmakers include NVIDIA, Broadcom, Fujitsu, and MediaTek.
Dropping that extended of a legal battle will, if anything, be good for the bankrolls of both tech companies.
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