Hynix Semiconductor, the world’s No.2 memory-chip maker, won a patent infringement appeal against Rambus Inc., a U.S.-based technology licensing firm, the South Korean company said Saturday.
If the ruling stands, Hynix will not have to pay the hefty compensation it was slapped with in 2009.
“We welcome this ruling as it has helped us establish the basis for pursuing future negotiations with Rambus,” Hynix said in a statement.
It was a watershed moment for not only the Seoul-based company, which has been mired in the legal battle with Rambus for over a decade, but also for other chipmakers against which Rambus has filed similar lawsuits against, industry watchers said.
Regarding Hynix, a U.S. court in March 2009 had ruled in favor of Rambus in a case alleging that Hynix infringed on 15 Rambus patents related to DRAM, dynamic random access memory chip technology.
Hynix was subsequently ordered to pay $397 million to Rambus as compensation, in addition to paying royalties to the California-based firm.
Hynix, however, appealed the court decision a month later.
Hynix said Rambus would probably appeal to the higher court, but cited legal experts saying it was unlikely for the issue to be taken up in the supreme court.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington on Friday found Rambus wrong to have destroyed documents relevant in two patent infringement trials with Micron Technology Inc., the largest U.S. chipmaker, and Hynix.
The ruling vacated previous lower court rulings involving the more than decade-long lawsuit.
There are other DRAM-makers also were enmeshed in the lawsuit.
This is because in 2000 Rambus began filing lawsuits against the world’s largest memory manufacturers, claiming that they owned SDRAM and DDR technology.
Manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics settled with Rambus and agreed to pay royalties on SDRAM and DDR memory.
However, Rambus’ credibility came into question in May 2001 when it was found guilty of fraud for having claimed that they owned SDRAM and DDR technology, industry sources said.
The favorable court ruling comes following a year of record-high profit for Hynix Semiconductor, which expects to post even more based on the robust global demand for smartphones, tablet PCs and other mobile internet devices proving to be a boon for business for local and global chipmakers.
By Kim Ji-hyun (email@example.com