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Litigious Rambus Wins Again

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the courts-reward-the-patient-ligitant dept.

Patents 161

After Rambus's settlement deal with Samsung earlier this week, an anonymous reader writes with this snippet: "Memory technology company Rambus rounded out the week with another legal dispute ending in its favor as it fights to defend its patent portfolio. On Friday [the] US International Trade Commission ruled that graphics chip maker Nvidia infringed upon Rambus patents, according to statements released by the two companies on Friday. Rambus has been filing lawsuits against various technology companies for the past decade, claiming they violate patents held by the memory chip designer."

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A patent troll with a win streak? (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866598)

This one's a tough call... the have been one of the most litigious of the tech companies, but on the other hand they seem to keep winning in the courts. Doesn't the definition of a patent troll include suing people with nonsense lawsuits? They seem to have come up with some ideas so critical to memory that everyone else in the industry can't seem to make a product without tripping over the patent law. Do we praise the inventors, or hate them because we hate patents?

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (5, Insightful)

jmv (93421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866608)

The term patent troll has nothing to do with the fact that a company wins or loses. It's used to describe a company whose sole (or main) source of income is patent litigation.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866822)

Yep, but nVidia also manufactures little and licenses its designs to others. Not many lawsuits, but they're a place that lives on patents too. So, in your definition, this was Patent Troll v. Patent Troll.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (3, Insightful)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866878)

I think the true Patent Troll is the company who neither innovates or manufactures (acts) on its patents. nVidia innovates with an intent to licenses, which I think most people can agree, doesn't really constitute patent troll behavior...they just want to concentrate on innovation.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (2, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867052)

Rambus is acting on their patents, they've got many licenses and are suing only those who want to use their patent-protected items without licensing. nVidia is just as protective of their designs... use one without paying and they'll sue too!

Bad faith (5, Informative)

nten (709128) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867350)

Its not so much that it wasn't a good idea, but that they negotiated in bad faith. The background is that a group of many manufacturers got together to make a memory standard that they could all use. They each chipped in ideas, and didn't patent them. Rambus steered the standard towards something that would include things they had already patented, and hoped no one would notice the patents. No one did. They then did not immediately sue, but waited until the standard was widely used by many of the original group, and others, so that paying the settlements would be preferable to the cost of switching standards. This is not simply patent trolling per the usual standard. This is an example of fraud. The company should get dissolved to pay remunerations towards those it defrauded, all patents released into public domain, and its board charged with felonies.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867288)

How many submarine patents has nVidia sprung on the industry?

It's called "Rent Seeking" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866828)

What Rambus is doing is nothing more than Rent Seeking.

If we allow this Rent Seeking mentality to take hostage of the High Tech industry, I am afraid that it might dampen the innovative spirit that has been rewarding us all the gadgets that we are using today.

The patent wars of the 21st century (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867038)

The patent wars are about to get really ugly. Just about everybody is gunning for an injunction against everybody else, especially in the forefront of innovation like cellular phones, ebooks, netbooks, tablets, user interfaces, networks and wireless communications, memory technologies and so on.

It's a jungle out there, and I can think of no better example of how patents prevent progress. Nobody can make anything without getting sued to oblivion. The lawyers are making five times what the engineers are - a disparity that gets worse with every passing year. Lawyers never invented anything but arguments and flights of fancy. It's just not possible to enter business. The system is broken.

Re:The patent wars of the 21st century (0, Redundant)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867542)

I can see where you're coming from on the blaming lawyers front, it is very fulfilling, but truth is they are as supply on demand as everything else. Sure, their existance does ensure their continued demand, in that you must hire good lawyers (in the terms of success, not as in good vs evil) to defend against good lawyers, but it's the companies doing this to each other. The lawyers are like expensive weapons, they amplify the damage those using the weapons wish to inflict, and just as in any arms race, where spending more on bigger better weapons helps you defend against others' bigger better weapons, surviving without them when you have a lot to protect and defend lies somewhere between difficult and laughably impossible.

Lawyers don't sue people. People do. Seems silly to blame the weapon for the intent of those holding it. The mistake that you have made here (dumbass;) was in thinking that unlike missiles and bullets, lawyers are people with minds of their own and can choose not to do the things they do, but don't because they lack morals. This is simply not the case. Lawyers aren't people. They're weapons. Just like a child pulled out of an African village to be turned into a weapon and used in a local war, the soul hides away in some darkened corner somewhere and what's left appears only human to the eye, or of course, the dissector's scalpal. The difference being of course, lawyers aren't lawyers through being forced into it, and thus one must conclude the lack of any soul to begin with. Therefore, the moral onus must fall upon those who purchase them for use against other human beings.

You have been enlightened. Enjoy.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (2, Informative)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867186)

Main source of income?
Rambus source of income is licensing their memory technology. The Sony PS3 uses XDR RAM designed by Rambus.
Hardly qualifies as a patent troll. They have every right to protect their IP.

A Tsunami for Haiti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867190)

To cool them down a little...

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (5, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866616)

When an idea is so critical to something it cannot be worked around, it is far too obvious to be deserving of a patent. As a problem gets bigger, the amount of ways to solve it grows proportionally. If memory makers can't get around them, there is no doubt in my mind they're nothing but patent trolling scum who deserve to be beaten down in court.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (2, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866632)

there is no doubt in my mind they're nothing but patent trolling scum who deserve to be beaten down in court.

But they haven't been... and are collecting their patent fees from Samsung who likely kept an eye on this case to see whether they needed to pay. So, do you hate all patents?

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (3, Informative)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867034)

A quick perusal of Rambus' patent portfolio does indicate their most recent patent was issued in 2008, which would indicate they are still attempting to innovate in their field. On the other hand, if they have certain patents that are so broad as to actually prohibit competition from entering the marketplace then the there is a very big problem with those patents. Patents are supposed to encourage corporations to invest in research and development by providing a measure of profit protection for the company doing that innovation. Stifling competition is counter to that intent.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867138)

Patents by definition stifle competition. They're saying "I figured out how to do something this way, and because I'm first you can't copy me!" It's a monopoly on that idea granted because if everybody could duplicate it right away, nobody would make money inventing.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867340)

But they are not meant to do so to such an extent as to create a monopolistic industry where a single patent or company's portfolio of patents controls the barrier of entry. They are meant to protect a company's way of doing things better.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867344)

That said, you're right. I'm not sure what I was thinking. My last two sentences are contradictory.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867568)

I think patents don't stifle competition so much as they stifle innovation. If patents were issued for shorter terms or if holders do not come to market by a certain time then the patent should be lost and the information opened to promote innovation upon that technology. And again patent terms should be shorter after coming to market. Enough time to make money and not hold up innovation. Time is key. The time frame now is better suited to 100 years ago when technology took a lot of time and effort to bring to market. Now due to fast communications, production and distribution it should be expected that tech needs to come to market faster.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867592)

"because I'm first"

No it's not. It's "because I'm first to publish". Patents are about getting information into the public as quickly as possible, by giving a financial/market incentive to whomever does it first. Imagine if companies wanting to keep their techs to themselves and those who pay towards their r&d had to find other ways to keep others out, such as covering all their chips in a substance that would destroy it if you tried to remove it. How much of their r&d budget would have to go into developing that? As much as they spend on lawyers? Perhaps, but this way, at least we get to keep the gunk off the chips we want to put into our laptops, and instead in courtrooms where it belongs.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866646)

When an idea is so critical to something it cannot be worked around, it is far too obvious to be deserving of a patent...

no, that idea is patentable, its the basis for why we have patents. If it could be easily worked around there would be no reason for a company to put in the time and money to get a patent, as others would just as quickly come out with a knock off that could avoid the patent.

Tm

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866658)

I'm having trouble coming up with stories that explain why Rambus sued nVidia, just that Rambus filed a suit last summer and nVidia lost today. What are they arguing about in the first place?

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866722)

The entire point of patents is to increase innovation by A) Giving documentation to people and B) Encourage multiple ways of doing something. For example, lets say I have patented a push lawn mower (the type without gas/electricity) I would get the patent for that device, then someone else could change it to do the same task but better (make a motorized push lawn mower) and then someone could take that and make it be better (make a ride on lawn mower) and then someone could take that and make it better (zero-turn radius mower), but I wouldn't get a patent for "thing that cuts grass". Effectively, what these patents are doing is patenting "cutting grass" without specifying a device and then suing everyone.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866992)

No, they aren't. Rambus patented and marketed faster, cheaper memory than anyone else. Some consumer PCs were even built around Rambus memory. It wasn't until after that, that competitors started making DDR2 and the like.

They didn't just patent broad ideas and then troll later. They patented actual PRODUCTS, that were actually sold on the market, and manufacturing methods for those products. That's far from "patent troll".

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (2, Interesting)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867478)

Only problem with that is, is that RAMBUS controls almost all of the DDR patents as well. They submarined the entire standard.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867652)

I think the problem with rambus wasn't so much the patenting and licensing of their tech, but the amount they wanted for the licensing of the tech, in manys' eyes, was holding technological progress to ransom, which is why those RDRAM based PCs never properly took off like other memory technologies. Memory's hazy tho (mine) and I never looked into it deeply, so I couldn't comment on how warrented such an impression was.

Geek Logic (5, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866720)

When an idea is so critical to something it cannot be worked around, it is far too obvious to be deserving of a patent.

That's nonsense.

If there is no work-around you have pretty much proven that the solution to the problem is not obvious and that the patent is legitimate.

Re:Geek Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866764)

I disagree with both of your assertions. I very much dislike patents, but I don't think a lack of workaround can go one way or the other on its obviousness.

Re:Geek Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867380)

I do... if everyone working in a space finds the same pattern to resolve their designs then its an obvious invention. There are only so many ways to optimally lay out transistors and only soo many algorithms one can follow to solve a problem. People being penalized for independantly arriving at a similiar solution after someone else just isn't fair and doesn't help anyone. If rambus sits on its ass and rakes in billions without doing anything that hurts everyone. People are spending way too much time dancing on the edges playing with patents, lawyers and market nonsense and not enough time innovating and pushing technology.

Re:Geek Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866770)

I don't know about that. If a patent covers binary encoding of numbers, I think it's both obvious and hard to work around.

Re:Geek Logic (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867698)

A patent can't cover binary encoding of numbers. It can cover an implentation of the binary encoding of numbers, eg, a particular way of wiring transistors up with capacitors to store the number, which probably has been subjected to many patents in the past that are now expired, and so the information is public domain, widely known, thus "obvious".

Tard Logic (3, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866774)

In what universe is it true that there being only one known way to solve a particular problem means that one solution is not obvious?

In fact, when everyone who approaches the problem arrives at the same solution, that's usually proof that the solution is obvious.

Re:Tard Logic (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866890)

What if everyone who approaches a problem doesn't arrive at a solution, and instead just uses the already known solution?

Re:Tard Logic (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866934)

That's different obviously.

But usually, if the solution isn't in textbooks, widely published research papers, or discussed at symposiums, but only dislosed via the patent then it isn't widely known. I mean, the patent lawyer at my company explicitly told my whole group not to do patent searches and just come up with solutions on our own, because patents are such a minefield the odds of you infringing one no matter what is very high, and knowingly doing so (which any kind of patent search, even if it didn't turn up the relevant one, could imply) is treble damages. Ergo most engineers are not working from the known-via-patent-disclosure solution, but coming up with it on their own. And if they're all coming up with the same one, then guess what? It was probably an obvious solution.

Re:Tard Logic (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866918)

In what universe is it true that there being only one known way to solve a particular problem means that one solution is not obvious?

In any case where the success of the product is directly affected by its speed.

Re:Tard Logic (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866954)

What?

Re:Tard Logic (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867056)

Products that perform at a number of thingamabobs per second do more thingamabobs a second the next year. The thingamabob-rate always increases but it's not like you can spend a ridiculous sum of money and get the end-all-be-all number of thingamabobs a second. The solution of how to reach the limit of thingamabobs per second isn't obvious. If it were, there'd be no such thing as Moore's law.

Re:Tard Logic (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867114)

You realize that the majority of that "x% more thingamabobs a year" has to do with device physics and process technology, not the logic/protocol/signal integrity technology that's people like Rambus involves themselves in?

"The ultimate thingamabobs/sec technology" isn't obvious. That doesn't mean any particular improvement in things/sec wasn't obvious. Obviously.

Re:Tard Logic (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867192)

I wasn't defending RAMBUS, I was answering your question. Which... you seem to agree with in a way that is intended to sound like you don't. Heh.

Re:Tard Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867096)

But everyone else didn't, possibly until reading the work of the patent makers. It's the Egg of Columbus, the answer becomes obvious after it is handed to you on a silver platter.

Re:Tard Logic (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867128)

But everyone else didn't, possibly until reading the work of the patent makers.

There are many cases of concurrent development. Most actual inventions in this area take years to develop, so if you're anywhere close to someone else in coming out with a successful implementation of an idea, chances are you had to have been working on it before the other party disclosed the idea in a patent.

Besides, most engineers are not doing patent searches on the explicit advice of their legal departments. So, "possibly", sure. Practically, not so often.

Re:Geek Logic (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866792)

No, the entire point of patents is to encourage innovation. If you patent something so basic it can't be worked around, it is too obvious. How does blocking all innovation encourage innovation? It is an oxymoron. When you patent small advancements, small improvements, they allow for innovation. Most software and many hardware patents are akin to patenting "using a spring to trap a mouse", they have no specific outlines, no implementation and only serve as a hindrance to any innovators. Now, patenting a standard mousetrap, may be worthy of patenting, because it allows for others to trap mice differently using some of the same materials, thus encouraging innovation. When someone patents something basic, no work can be done without paying extortion... I mean, patent royalties decreasing a lot of potential innovation.

Re:Geek Logic (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866956)

But it wasn't something that was "so basic it can't be worked around". What they patented were ways to make fast memory, cheaper.

If the competition can't make them as fast, or as cheap, too bad. Nothing about that means the solutions were "obvious"... at least not until Rambus patented them. In fact it wan't until Rambus memory started to be included in consumer products that the other companies suddenly decided it was "obvious".

It's pretty easy to say "Why didn't I think of that?" after the fact. It is the one who gets there first that gets the patent. That IS innovation.

Re:Geek Logic (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867010)

What they patented were ways to make fast memory, cheaper.

Nothing about Rambus' technology was every about "cheaper". Their memory technology was inherently more expensive than others because it required additional serialization logic chips.


It's pretty easy to say "Why didn't I think of that?" after the fact. It is the one who gets there first that gets the patent. That IS innovation.

You mean the one who gets to the patent office first? "Why didn't I think of that?" is what Rambus said when they overheard the discussions at JEDEC, but then they realized it didn't matter that they didn't think of it first, since nobody else thought of patenting it first. Yay Rambus?

Re:Geek Logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867068)

But this thread wasn't about the validity Rambus' patents and whether or not they invented them. It was about the premise that anything that patented the only way to do something is too obvious to deserve a patent. Which is not always a valid statement.

As Jane Q Public wrote, it is sometimes so obvious only AFTER reading the patent. In most cases there is another way to accomplish the same outcome. If, on the other hand, there is truly only ONE possible path and someone works it out first, the patent system is in place to allow that person to benefit from the discovery for a fixed amount of time if they share how to do it.

Re:Geek Logic (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867176)

But this thread wasn't about the validity Rambus' patents and whether or not they invented them.

Uh, Jane Q made it about that.

It was about the premise that anything that patented the only way to do something is too obvious to deserve a patent. Which is not always a valid statement.

That's definitely not always a valid statement, I completely agree. Sometimes it is valid, sometimes it isn't.

As Jane Q Public wrote, it is sometimes so obvious only AFTER reading the patent.

Sure, in some cases having nothing to do with Rambus.

Re:Geek Logic (3, Interesting)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867312)

What the hell kind of comment is that? Take flight. There are two ways to do it - be lighter than air, or equal your weight with thrust.

Unless we find some way to modify gravity, that's it. In that case, the "idea is so critical to [flight that] it cannot be worked around". You can easily make the case that simple physics will allow you to arrive at both solutions.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (2, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866760)

"When an idea is so critical to something it cannot be worked around, it is far too obvious to be deserving of a patent."

So if I invent a Time Machine, and nobody else can find another way to travel through time so they use my design, then my solution was obvious and I am a patent troll for enforcing my patent?

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866814)

Yeah, that's obviously not the metric of obviousness either.

The official definition of obviousness is roughly whether or not anyone skilled in the art would arrive at the same solution.

Of course that definition is based on a hypothetical, so it's hard to say (without a Time Machine).

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866820)

depends on your patent, if you were granted a patent on the idea of time travel alone then yes your a patent trolling bastard. if you came up with an entirely new method of time travel that no one has ever thought of and you license that idea out to people or build the product yourself, then thats fair.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867080)

"depends on your patent, if you were granted a patent on the idea of time travel alone then yes your a patent trolling bastard. "

Not really. In that case I'm an idiot, because I'm staying in the present time and suing people when I could be using my fucking time machine!

(for those following along but not closely don't get caught up in just this post. timmarhy has me patenting the general idea, but I already stated that others are using my working design in their working machines using my patent)

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867070)

So if I invent a Time Machine, and nobody else can find another way to travel through time so they use my design, then my solution was obvious and I am a patent troll for enforcing my patent?

Good luck with that - I'll just use your patented time machine to go back in time and patent it before you!

Some things are impossible to protect by patents.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867104)

"Good luck with that - I'll just use your patented time machine to go back in time and patent it before you! "

That was a bad move. I was waiting for you because I had the first Time Machine, and now the cops are going to have to wait for someone else to invent one so they can play Timecop, because I'm not inventing it again and taking the chance that they'll put me in jail for torturing you to death!

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867756)

Not true unless you destroy the time machines before the police get you for the torture. Just because you change the future so you never invent the time machine doesn't mean the ones already in the past will suddenly disappear. Dispite the grandfather paradox, time just doesn't work like that.

You'd end up with a situation where there are just two time machines, found in a time before man kind was ready and able to produce them itself, yet perfectly able to decypher the buttons. Well *rubs hands* I can't see how that could possibly go wrong... so thanks for that, you human hater.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866802)

Maybe you feel this way because there is no room in your mind when your mind is made up.

If there is any merit to their claims, aspects of Rambus's technology was co-opted into memory standards without their say so. The reason that it "can't be worked around" is not because its so fundamental as to be obvious, but rather that it was so widely adopted, the "true" crooks figured they'd have killed the upstart well before it became a problem.

I for one wish Intel didn't punk out on RAMBUS memory back when P4 came out. It was the only 1:1 FSB to memory speed pairing they had for a full year before they came out with a DDR board that was good but couldn't compare to the potential they left at the alter.

I think that idea that the memory makers colluded to inflate the price of RIMM chips by constricting the supply is part of the anti-competitive suits filed against them. (there was a ruling against some memory companies 1-2 years ago wasn't there?). Anyways, by killing the directly RAMBUS branded stuff where there was no chance of disputing patent, they could get away with ganking some of the less directly obvious types. They thought.

It would be cool if this leads to faster memory in the future, or bus technology, though I would rather see a company like rambus tackle the storage bottleneck (despite SSD drives).

PS, patent troll

Does not equal: technology engineering company who licences their creations (or sue's to protect them). These guys actually kept creating IP after the memory fiasco. In fact, alot of it is in your game consoles and HDTVs...

Does equal: bought some rights to something they may or may not even understand and are using the rights to go after people for money (trolling like fishing boats)

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866892)

I for one wish Intel didn't punk out on RAMBUS memory back when P4 came out.

That was the essence of the case last week.

Samsung, Hynix, and Micron got together and said "If we have to pay Rambus royalties on RDRAM, but not on SDRAM or DDR, let's make sure that SDRAM's a lot cheaper than RDRAM. Nobody'll buy RDRAM-based systems, and so what if Rambus sues us? They fucked us at the JEDEC standards were being written, but by the time the case is settled, they'll be bankrupt."

The DRAMurai gambled, and when Rambus was allowed to introduce the fact that Samsung executives had been jailed for that price-fixing, they realized they'd lost the gamble, which is why Samsung settled. Now that RMBS's army of lawyers is flush with a $900M war chest, it's in NVDA's best interest to settle.

A pox on all their houses. My only regret is that I didn't profit from it. (Fucking Samsung lawyer claimed he was "deathly ill" in late 2009, which delayed the trial to January, wiping the November call options to zero. Fucking Micron lawyer pulled the same stunt last week, which wiped out January's call options.)

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866968)

Soooo if somebody solves a critical problem then by default they shouldn't be granted a patent just because that's the only solution? Our patent system IS screwed up, but it's that kind of innovation that it's supposed to protect. Whoever comes up with the solution should reap the benefits.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866976)

Everything looks obvious in retrospect. The geniuses are the ones who can see the obvious when nobody else can.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (5, Insightful)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866638)

RAMBUS, Inc. is the very definition of a patent troll. They're just smarter, and more brazen, than most. It will take years to undo the damage they did to JEDEC memory standards, and by then, who knows how else they will infect memory standards with their patents?

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866640)

I go with hate them - if they can't make a physical product that kicks ass, then they deserved to have their asses kicked
if all they can do is sue. Unfortunately, since the lawmakers don't seem to get it and so long as trollhavens like the
East District Court of Texas are around, lame plaintiffs will prosper.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866688)

I go with hate them - if they can't make a physical product that kicks ass, then they deserved to have their asses kicked

Here's the problem with that: nVidia is board-design IP shop. They don't make anything either, they just sell their designs to other companies who build the hardware, and market it under their own brands with an "nVidia powered" seal. Patent Troll 1 vs. Patent Troll 2 according to your definition.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

Pulzar (81031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866818)

Here's the problem with that: nVidia is board-design IP shop. They don't make anything either, they just sell their designs to other companies who build the hardware, and market it under their own brands with an "nVidia powered" seal. Patent Troll 1 vs. Patent Troll 2 according to your definition.

Outsourcing your manufacturing (of chips, or anything else for that matter) can't be described as "selling your designs", though. You're providing the fab with the spec on the part that you want them to manufacture, and you pay them to make it for you. Then don't buy the designs, you don't sell them. You still end up selling a real product (chip) to graphics board makers.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (0)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866870)

You're providing the fab with the spec on the part that you want them to manufacture, and you pay them to make it for you.

You don't seem to understand nVidia's business model. They don't make much under their brand, they sell the chip design to multiple companies, who then make the chip (or hire someone to do it for them) and sell it under their brand with the right to also mention nVidia's brand. So a consumer who wants a particular card has multiple SKUs from multiple manufacturers to pick from... and nVidia gets their fee no matter which one you buy.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866900)

you don't seem to understand the difference between a patent and a chip design. not only that nvidia write the drivers and do the marketing. they PRODUCE something of value. rambus does not.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867014)

What's Rambus' patent in? Yep... design of memory chips. Your argument remains circular.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867108)

What?? My god, you must be a retard or a patent troll.

Rambus makes a patent. A patent is not a design of anything. Get ANY of the Rambus patents and build something with it? OK? Failed already?

nVidia on the other hand makes actual chip designs. Actual blueprints. Solutions to specific problems, no general handwaving. They are the actual engineers that solve real problems. Then they *sell* the actual chips..

What is next? You are going to compare Intel to Rambus and that Intel doesn't make anything either?

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867372)

err no it's not. my whole point is that nvidia do a hell of a lot more then just patent stuff, where all rambus does is sue people based on overly broad patents which shouldn't have been granted in the first place. if you think back far enough rambus hate started way back in the mid 90's when they sat on JEDEC, took the idea's people talked about during meetings and patented them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rambus [wikipedia.org]

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867016)

Once again (see my above posts), they DID invent superior products, and had them manufactured, and actually sold them for real machines. Am I the only one here who remembers PCs containing Rambus memory?

It was only then that larger competitors stole their ideas and drove them out of the market. So Rambus is actually the opposite of a "patent troll". They are the little guy who got illegally stepped on by bigger industry... in other words, victims of the same thing Microsoft has been convicted for doing, multiple times.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867098)

Once again (see my above posts), they DID invent superior products, and had them manufactured, and actually sold them for real machines. Am I the only one here who remembers PCs containing Rambus memory?

They didn't invent it. They underhandedly patented ideas from the JEDEC and are seeking rent on them now.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866662)

but on the other hand they seem to keep winning in the courts. Doesn't the definition of a patent troll include suing people with nonsense lawsuits?

Those two concepts are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to win in the courts despite a lawsuit being garbage.

They seem to have come up with some ideas so critical to memory that everyone else in the industry can't seem to make a product without tripping over the patent law.

Patent trolls often get an overly broad patent accepted by the USPTO that covers much more than it should in same cases making it nearly impossible to have a competitive design that doesn't infringe a patent somewhere. Ideally, our patent system would do exactly what it was supposed to: encourage the development of the sciences and R&D in general but in many cases, the system is corrupt, even broken, so while a company filing a patent suit may be technically following the law, that doesn't necessarily mean that the company isn't a troll.

Re:A patent troll with a win streak? (5, Informative)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867278)

They seem to have come up with some ideas so critical to memory that everyone else in the industry can't seem to make a product without tripping over the patent law. Do we praise the inventors, or hate them because we hate patents?

I guess you don't know/remember the real story behind RAMBUS. These "innovations" that they patented were obtained by attending multivendor conference meetings and then filing patents on the ideas discussed before anybody else got to them. They didn't come up with them, they just filed first!

But to make matters worse, they "submarined" the patents, filing changes for years so that nobody knew about the patents until AFTER the industry had pretty much committed itself to the designs that Rambus was eventually awarded patents to.

Rambus is a horrible patent troll, in the fullest sense of the word. In terms of evil, they are right up there with Antivirus vendors and spammers.

Just to clarify.... (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866666)

...The US Trade Commission is not a court.

Re:Just to clarify.... (5, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866690)

Indeed. And Rambus has been losing [wikipedia.org] all of their patent suits in court.

Though they have been winning all the suits involving anti-trust (both those filed against them, and those filed against the memory makers who did engage in illegal trust behavior).

Re:Just to clarify.... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866794)

I'm going to have to call "NPOV violation" on that one... it's a list of their losses, while their [businessweek.com] wins [betanews.com] have [sfgate.com] gone [toolbox.com] unmentioned. [luisrei.com]

Re:Just to clarify.... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866860)

Um... only one of those is actually Rambus winning a patent royalty case. The rest are Rambus not losing anti-trust cases against them. Which I said they won, and the WP page supports them winning. The second "victory" was Rambus being able to concede defeat and pay Samsung's legal bills despite Samsung wanting to continue litigation.

Re:Just to clarify.... (1)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867584)

Really? They have judges, lawyers, clerks, hearings and all the trappings of a court.

Quote their home page [usitc.gov] : The Commission also adjudicates cases involving imports that allegedly infringe intellectual property rights. "Adjudicates" implies court.

Further quote: Section 337 investigations, which are conducted pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1337 and the Administrative Procedure Act, include trial proceedings before administrative law judges and review by the Commission.

Comparisons (1)

Sanat (702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866744)

When I think of Rambus and how they as a company act... I can not help but think of SCO.

Perhaps with a final ending not unlike that as well.
 

Re:Comparisons (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866930)

SCO was a company that had nothing left but lawsuits (with a 0-win record) and money from those who felt the settlement price was less than the money they'd lose defending themselves against a threatened lawsuit.

Rambus on the other hand is proving they've got something, and has most of the chip industry as clients with the few holdouts losing and trying to claim anti-trust violations.

Re:Comparisons (1)

Sanat (702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867134)

Rewind back about 20 years when Rambus stole many common knowledge ideas from JEDEC meetings and patented them as if they were their own... which they were not.

Back in those days the companies were trying to come up with something faster memory-wise and a lot of good ideas from many companies were talked about... and then suddenly RAMBUS owns the patents to these regardless of whom ever suggested the ideas..

I personally remember this occurring and that is why the Rambus name leave a bad taste in my mouth just like SCO.

Rambus has patents legally but not ethically.

Compare it to you and I talking about a neat idea over a couple of beers on a Friday night after work and I took all of your ideas... documented them and turned them in Monday morning to the boss as my ideas... how would you feel? That is exactly what happen with the public knowledge information from JEDEC.

Guaranteed to fail (-1, Offtopic)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866756)

In general a high-speed chase is a safety problem when there are other vehicles around. Those vehicles would likely be knocked out by this as well. Pace makers, and collateral damage to other electronics including the police car itself would probably be way too unacceptable. Second problem is that the size of the panel require to generate sufficient power density is so big that the chasing police car would be unable to do high speed (think parachute). Plus it's simply cheaper to call the dispatcher and have them put in the OnStar kill order instead of outfitting each cop car with $200k of equipment.

My prediction is a bill or NHSTA rule requiring all new cars to have on-star installed. We're getting close, as I heard a commercial on the way home stating that all new GM (I think) cars would come equipped with OnStar. The OnStar approach makes much more sense anyway. You can send a signal to a fleeing car to limit power. Or if the car is stolen, tell the car to refuse to restart after it's stopped. Much safer than making the car stall in a potentially dangerous position.

Re:Guaranteed to fail (1)

Gilandune (1266114) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866786)

Seems to me you posted on the wrong thread :P

Re:Guaranteed to fail (2, Informative)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866922)

I didn't think I did. I think Slashdot is fucked up. If you open another topic and go back to the original thread, it seems replies might end up in the wrong thread.

Re:Guaranteed to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867182)

I hope that doesn't happen during sex.

Re:Guaranteed to fail (3, Funny)

flydpnkrtn (114575) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866804)

A car analogy! Sweet now I get it

Re:Guaranteed to fail (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866842)

You appear lost.

Not a troll (0, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866914)

Rambus is hardly a "patent troll". They are/were a legitimate technology company that innovated and was awarded patents for their inventions.

If I did that, then was driven almost out of business by others who "borrowed" my technology, I would sue their asses off too! That wouldn't make me litigious (I hate legal wrangling). That would make me righteous and deserving.

Re:Not a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866966)

Indeed, viewing Slashdot with Firefox has a few interesting bugs like this.

Re:Not a troll (5, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866982)

They're kinda a troll and kinda not. They were awarded patents for their inventions... and they were awarded patents for what they overheard at JEDEC and then ran off and patented (and no one else did first because the whole point was to devise a patent-royalty-free standard).

Re:Not a troll (1, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867048)

What do you want to bet those aren't the patents they are winning on?

But that is a point. They did patent a few obvious things. On the other hand, they had some innovative technology of their own blatantly stolen.

Re:Not a troll (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867092)

What do you want to bet those aren't the patents they are winning on?

Oh just about anything since anybody who was interested in the technology they actually invented paid for it. :P

But that is a point. They did patent a few obvious things. On the other hand, they had some innovative technology of their own blatantly stolen.

It's not that they were obvious. It's that they didn't invent them. Someone else did. But because of how fucked our patent system is, being the first one to file a patent is more important than being the one to invent.

Anyway, I haven't seen any cases where their actual technology was blatantly stolen. I've only seen cases where their patent rights to the technology they stole was upheld.

TFA gives no indication which this is, but since it's NVidia that suggests it's related to GDDR in which case it's the later.

Re:Not a troll (0, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867742)

"Anyway, I haven't seen any cases where their actual technology was blatantly stolen. I've only seen cases where their patent rights to the technology they stole was upheld."

DDR2 and further refinements like DDR3 and now 4 and 5 all rely on technology that Rambus patented.

Re:Not a troll (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30866998)

Yep, a traditional patent troll doesn't file for the patent themselves, they buy somebody else's patent cheaply under the pretense that the original inventor is getting nothing because they can't mount the massive legal campaign... the new owners then sue the world. Big profit in the unlikely event they win, and that's how they justify the cost. One of these days, that lottery combo will be drawn.

Re:Not a troll (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867046)

They *were* a legitimate technology company. Building their undisclosed patents into a JEDEC standard makes them a troll. Not starting litigation until well after the standard had become widely adopted makes them a super-troll.

Re:Not a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867632)

When you sit on a committee of many companies discussing future standards then go out and patent what was discussed, then wait until products are manufactured before announcing the patents, then you are indeed a troll, or worse.

What's the dispute about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30866972)

Neither TFS nor TFA contain a description of the actual dispute, nor any patent numbers involved, so how are we going to make up our minds about the situation? (Apart from the fact that Rambus is a notorious patent troll...)

Memory technology company? (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867040)

I always thought, Rambus was a law firm with a straw business in memory technology.

Rambus vs. JEDEC (5, Interesting)

azrider (918631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867084)

To all of you:

Before commenting (especially if you are defending Rambus) you might want to do a search on "rambus jedec spec". The google search is:
http://www.google.com/search?q=rambus+jedec+spec&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a/ [google.com]

One of the results is:
http://www.abanet.org/antitrust/committees/intell_property/june21.html/ [abanet.org] (FTC Charges Rambus With Abuse of Standard Setting Process).

In a nutshell, Rambus participated in the standards setting process for SDRAM technology without informing any of the other members that they were actively pursuing patents in the technology used to implement the standard. Once the standard was finalized, they disclosed the patents and demanded royalties.

Methinks that Rambus was in the wrong. So does the FTC.

Re:Rambus vs. JEDEC (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30867172)

Wish I had mod points. There are too many "RAMBUS is a legitimate innovator." posts in this thread for my liking.

Re:Rambus vs. JEDEC (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867378)

This is why people hate Rambus. The did innovate, they also tricked people into using there technology only later to demand money for it.

Luckily such a widely known example will make this never happen again. Try to find one technology standard that doesn't ensure all involved in the setting the standard sign their patent portfolio away for a predetermined fee before the standard is set.

My name is Litigious Rambus (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30867090)

My name is Litigious Rambus, manufacturer of the SDRAM on the Northbridge, General Counsel for the Federal Circuit, loyal servant to the true emperor, Thomas Lavelle (US). Maker of a murdered spec, keeper of the spoliated evidence. And I will have my settlement, in this life or the next.

(This is a first pass at it. Feel free to improve.)

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