Rambus, Infineon reach deal on patent infringement case

Infineon will pay a quarterly license fee of $5.85M through 2007

Rambus Inc. and Infineon Technologies AG said today that they have hammered out a settlement that will end all pending lawsuits between the companies and start a licensing agreement for the use of the Rambus patent portfolio in Infineon products.

Under the agreement, Munich-based Infineon will pay a quarterly license fee of $5.85 million by Nov. 15, with payments continuing through Nov. 15, 2007, the companies said in a joint statement. After that, Infineon will continue to make quarterly payments worth up to an additional $100 million, but only if Rambus "enters into additional specified licensing agreements with certain other DRAM manufacturers," they said.

Rambus, which doesn't manufacture its own memory chips, has contended since 2001 that Infineon's synchronous dynamic RAM (SDRAM) chips infringe upon Rambus patents. But earlier this month, Rambus suffered a legal setback when Judge Robert Payne of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Infineon's request for dismissal of the case, the second time the case had been dismissed.

Los Altos, Calif.-based Rambus also took aim at Infineon in separate suit filed last May in Superior Court for the State of California. In that claim, Rambus charged Infineon and three other computer memory vendors -- Hynix Semiconductor Inc., Micron Technology Inc. and Siemens AG -- of illegally working together to keep Rambus' RDRAM (Rambus DRAM) product from becoming a mainstream memory technology by restricting prices and production output in the late 1990s.

As part of the settlement announced today, Infineon has granted Rambus a fully paid perpetual license for memory interfaces, while Infineon gets "most-favored customer" status for Rambus licenses that it buys. Infineon also maintains an option for acquiring certain other licenses, the companies said.

Representatives from the two companies couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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