updated 11:30 am EST, Mon January 25, 2010
Samsung deal worth $900 million; NVIDIA to appeal
In separate actions, southern California memory technology company Rambus has cleared a procedural hurdle in in its patent-infringement case against NVIDIA, and settled a claim against South Korean electronics giant Samsung.
The ruling by an administrative judge of the International Trade Commission that NVIDIA violated three patents held by Rambus means the case will proceed to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office for a final determination.
The administrative judge's decision relates to eight remaining claims of patent infringement originally filed with the International Trade Commission in November 2008. The USPTO had previously rejected most of Rambus' claims against NVIDIA -- 17 in a June 2009 decision, and 41 claims in November 2009. The USPTO has also previously issued preliminary rulings against Rambus for these same claims.
In a statement issued by NVIDIA, the company noted that the USPTO has "consistently found" the Rambus' assertions of patent violations to be invalid.
The settlement with Samsung, worth a total of $900 million, removes that company from the suit initially filed by Rambus against it, rival Hynix Semiconductor, and chip maker Micron Technology. Rambus and Samsung jointly announced the settlement.
Samsung has agreed to an initial payment of $200 million, and quarterly payments of $25 million for the next five years. Samsung will also purchase $200 million in Rambus stock. In exchange, Samsung receives a perpetual license to use Rambus' technology.
The two companies also signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on a new generation of mobile and graphics memory. Additional development in high-end server and NAND memory is also being considered.
The majority of Rambus' revenue is generated by royalties from companies licensing its memory technology.