The World of Rambus felt another terrorizing tremor rattle through near the last of the company?s most important patent covenants. This time none other than the United States Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated the third and final "Barth" patent – the last of three important patents to be invalidated by that office.
Rambus is more known for litigation than for innovation… the bill collector is now coming to company gates.
These three patents, collectively known as the "Barth" patents, used by Rambus to win infringement suits against Nvidia Corp., Hewlett-Packard and others, has provided Rambus with millions of dollars of income. Rambus was successful in July 2010 when the International Trade Commission, which hears patent litigation involving imported products, ruled that graphics chip maker Nvidia, Hewlett-Packard and other smaller companies had infringed the three Barth patents. Nvidia subsequently settled with Rambus on the issue.
An appeals board at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office declared the patent invalid on January 24, according to a ruling posted on their website. The previous two were declared invalid in September.
The patents were among six that Rambus used in their accusations of infringement in a new ITC complaint filed in early 2011. Rambus accused STMicroelectronics, MediaTek and Broadcom among others of infringing these patents. Broadcom has since settled out of court.
The last pick-up sticks to hit Rambus was the November 16, 2011 court decision in which it lost a $4 billion antitrust lawsuit against Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. The company?s stock dropped 60% of its market value following the decision. The company has not made a decision to appeal the jury verdict. It was unclear if Rambus appealed the invalidation of the first two Barth patents from September, nor the latest invalidation – the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is unlikely that Rambus will win an appeal on the third Barth patent, since it would be appealed back to the examiner, who would be highly unlikely to disagree with the higher-ranking appeals board according to sources.
Once appeals are exhausted at the patent office, companies can dispute patent invalidations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.
Rambus built a new World Headquarters in Silicon Valley – a well known way to find your way out of business…