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Rambus Wins Dispute Over Antitrust Venue

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Rambus has won a dispute over where its antitrust case against certain semiconductor companies should be litigated.

Rambus won a venue dispute at the trial court level and last week a California appellate court declined to overturn that decision. Absent a successful further appeal to the California Supreme Court, the case will continue to be litigated in California Superior Court in the City and County of San Francisco, which is where Rambus had filed the complaint nine months ago.

“We are very pleased to have this delay behind us, and now expect this case to move forward aggressively,” said John Danforth, senior vice president and general counsel at Rambus. “Our first aim is to get access to what we understand to be the price-fixing documents that have already been gathered in related civil and criminal cases by a number of parties. We believe that those documents likely contributed to the near record fines, guilty pleas and jail sentences already reported by the U.S. Department of Justice in a related, still-pending criminal investigation.”

Defendants, who include the semiconductor companies Hynix Semiconductor, Infineon Technologies, Micron Technology, Siemens AG, have vigorously opposed venue in San Francisco, delaying the Rambus antitrust case for several months and seeking pre-trial appellate review of the trial court decision to keep the case in San Francisco.

Rambus filed its anti-trust suit in San Francisco in May 2004 charging that the defendants engaged in a concerted and unlawful multi-year effort to eliminate competition and stifle innovation in the market for computer memory technology and computer memory chips. Subsequent to Rambus filing suit, in October 2004, Infineon pled guilty to criminal price fixing, agreeing to pay a $160 million fine to the U.S. Department of Justice and admitting to conspiring with other DRAM companies from 1999 to 2002 to fix DRAM prices and eliminate competition.

Four Infineon employees also pled guilty in December, 2004, agreeing to pay fines and serve person sentences. Among other things, the Rambus suit filed in San Francisco alleges that defendants, including Infineon, collectively rigged DRAM prices and costs to drive Rambus’s RDRAM product from the market. The 36-page Rambus complaint relies in substantial part on evidence obtained through a 2003 Federal Trade Commission proceeding and asserts four causes of action, including conspiracy to restrict output and fix prices in violation of the Cartwright Act; conspiracy to monopolize in violation of the Cartwright Act; intentional interference with prospective economic advantage; and unfair competition in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 17200.

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Rambus Wins Dispute Over Antitrust Venue
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