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Supreme Court Sides With Rambus Over FTC 143

Posted by kdawson
from the severely-undermine-and-jeopardize dept.
afabbro writes "The US Supreme Court rejected the FTC's bid to impose anti-trust penalties on Rambus. Without comment, they let stand an appeals court decision favoring Rambus. The FTC had found that Rambus undermined competition by getting secretly patented technology included in industry standards, but the Supremes evidently didn't agree."
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Supreme Court Sides With Rambus Over FTC

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  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:27AM (#26968507) Homepage
    So the Supremes didn't say "Stop [bundling secretly patented technology] in the Naaaame of Love"?
  • Is it so hard to at least explain some of the details in the summary. Sorry Rambus isn't a well know brand name like IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Sun, HP... By reading the summary I had no Idea what the suit was about.

    • by Pope (17780)

      What's stopping you from looking up words you don't know? I'd wager that Rambus is well-known amongst a lot of Slashdot's readership, so it's not too much of a surprise that the summary/article doesn't spell it out explicitly.

    • by sexconker (1179573) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:21PM (#26971765)

      Rambus makes RAM.

      Rambus essentially stole trade secrets / patented info and jury rigged them into various standards, thus making them no longer a secret and the patents unenforceable.

      The people behind those secrets and patents got pissed and sued Rambus.

      The lawyers have been slapping their cocks together for about 17 years, several of which have been in relation to this case.

      There were decisions, there were appeals, and now the end of it is the Supreme Court ruling that lets Rambus get away free and clear.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cibyr (898667)

        Really? I thought it was more like:

        Rambus makes RAM.

        Rambus has some patents on some RAM technology, and got this technology included into various standards - without telling anyone that they held the patents.

        When everyone started making RAM to meet said standards, Rambus suddenly started asking for royalties on the patents that they hadn't mentioned earlier.

        Everyone else got pissed off by this and got the FTC to agree that that's not cricket, but the courts apparently don't agree with the FTC.

        The lawyers ha

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:34AM (#26968561) Homepage

    Not that anyone in this day and age learns from mistakes any longer -- following the economic crash, people are seeking to get back to "business as usual" failing to appreciate that "business as usual" is what caused the crash. (Interestingly, the great depression spawned all kinds of lessons and wisdom that carried for generations... it wasn't really until most of the great depression survivors died that this crash occurred.)

    But I seem to be getting off-topic but not truly. The idea here is that RAMBUS got away with a very serious and ugly misdeed. They got away with it. Their reputation has been harmed but not enough that they would be shamed out of business. But industry standards people are well aware of what happened and I should hope that they will be able to prevent that sort of thing from happening ever again. They should include provisions that says things like "by providing your specifications or designs, you agree that any associated patents or other rights will be licensed to all users free of charge" or "by submitting this information for approval, you also agree that you are giving up any claims on intellectual property rights where this specification is used."

    RAMBUS became instantly evil in the eyes of many with the news of their misdeed. Likewise, Microsoft became instantly evil in the eyes of those interested in ISO standards approval. These should all be counted as lessons learned. I don't think anyone uses RAMBUS RAM do they? There is good reason for it -- they priced it right out of use. Microsoft is another story...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wisty (1335733)

      Well, maybe standards should just stick to unpatentable things. Like solutions that would be "obvious" to an expert in the field. That way there can't be patents, right?

    • by MiniMike (234881) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:51AM (#26968721)

      Unfortunately, I think the lesson propagated here is that you should sneak your patents into standards you are supposedly helping with, as no harm will come to you from your misdeed. Rambus and Microsoft are not the first companies to do this, and thanks to the encouragement they received from the Supreme Court they probably won't be the last.

      • by lenski (96498)

        Mod parent up, folks.

        RAMBUS just successfully got away with *not* playing by rules of ethical behavior.

        Until we wring their sort of fraud out of common practice, this society will continue to be whipsawed by alternating cycles of greed and failure.

        • Did they though? Their technology is not exactly widely used...

          • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @11:33AM (#26970857)

            Did they though? Their technology is not exactly widely used...

            RDRAM may not be widely used, but the technologies they claim patents on have, which include stuff like DDR and QDR signalling, which are used everywhere.

            And let's not forget that one of the world's best selling consoles uses RDRAM as well - Playstation 2 has 32MB of RDRAM. Its successor also has 256MB of RDRAM as well.

            As for the memory manufacturers forcing prices down - given the price discrepancy between DDR-SDRAM and RDRAM, there was no way the memory dumping could've easily forced RDRAM prices to be significantly (4x-8x) higher than the equivalent DDR-SDRAM. A better part of a grand for 128MB of RDRAM (while the DDR version sold for under $200) around 10 years ago? DDR prices were much in line with old SDRAM pricing in the days - while RDRAM prices were really out of this world.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Truekaiser (724672)

          I thought everyone knew that in a system that expects everyone to act ethically, it's the unethical person that always wins.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by R2.0 (532027)

        Unfortunately, I think the lesson propagated here is that you should sneak your patents into standards you are supposedly helping with, as no harm will come to you from your misdeed. Rambus and Microsoft are not the first companies to do this, and thanks to the encouragement they received from the Supreme Court they probably won't be the last.

        The only lesson to be learned here is that the FTC needs to mount a better case. The original 3 judge appeals panel ruled that the FTC basically did a poor job showin

      • by manekineko2 (1052430) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @10:05AM (#26969551)

        I'm not really immediately clear on why, but this case was litigated on a different ground than everyone here is discussing (as of the time I am posting this comment).

        JEDEC is a standards board that requires members to disclose their patent holdings. With proper disclosure, JEDEC could either adopt a non-proprietary standard, or require reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing. Rambus was a member, but failed to disclose its patents, and then convinced the standards board to adopt its patents as standards.

        Rather than litigating on fraud, like most people are assuming, it seems that at least at the appellate level, the FTC proceeded on an anti-trust theory. In order to succeed in an anti-trust case under the Sherman Antitrust Act, it has to be shown that your conduct reduced competition. If a company already has a monopoly, under this law, simply using it to charge higher prices isn't illegal, it's using it to quash competition that is, and it must be shown that but-for the deceptive conduct another standard would have been adopted. Now Rambus' actions are a lot of things, but it's not immediately apparent they reduced competition simply by increasing prices, and that's what the appellate court found. I don't really understand at first glance why this wasn't a fraud case.

        The Supreme Court didn't actually side with anyone. They declined to review, like they do for more than 90% of cases, and this decidedly does not mean they side with either side. It simply means they're very busy and decided this wans't one of the 100 most pressing cases facing the United States in this year. Therefore, the appellate level decision stands on this case.

        Source on most of what I'm saying on Rambus:
        link [intellectu...awblog.com].

        • by manekineko2 (1052430) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @10:18AM (#26969719)

          After more digging, I think I get it now.

          A fraud action actually was brought by those injured by Rambus' purportedly fraudulent actions, i.e. the other memory manufacturers. The FTC wanted to also punish Rambus, so it brought a separate anti-trust case against Rambus, which was decided for Rambus by an appellate court, and that is what was just turned down for review by the Supreme Court.

          The fraud actions failed after juries decided that Rambus had been showing off these technologies before the standards board meetings, and that the JEDEC standards board rules don't clearly require disclosure of the patents. Source:
          link [cnet.com].

          For what it's worth though, Rambus seems to be having difficulties enforcing its patents. Apparently, it destroyed key documents related to them.
          Source:
          link [theregister.co.uk].

          • by Drake42 (4074) *

            I send you a heaping spoonful of good luck. You're the only person that actually looked into what was going on and reported on it. You also changed my view of the situation with facts not rants.

            More power to you.

        • by nog_lorp (896553)

          Forcing every other member of the industry to pay you to be in business isn't "reducing competition"?

          Sounds an awful lot like buying up all the barrel-making plants and refusing to sell them to other oil companies.

      • by jours (663228)

        > I think the lesson propagated here is that you should sneak your patents into standards
        > you are supposedly helping with, as no harm will come to you from your misdeed.

        No, I don't think so. The lesson to be learned here is that standards organizations should require full disclosure of relevant patents by all their members, and require them to forfeit future royalties if anything was omitted.

        Perhaps Rambus took advantage of the situation and should've acted in a more ethical manner. But the court h

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      >>>RAMBUS became instantly evil in the eyes of many with the news of their misdeed.

      I'm sorry but I don't see how RAMBUS did anything wrong. They developed a technology and collected royalties on it. That's no different than what HD Radio does when they collect royalties on every HDR digital radio sold, or when the DVD Consortium collects royalties on every disc sold, or when Sony/Philips collects royalties on every CD sold, or when JVC collects royalties on every VHS sold, or .....

      What is wrong w

      • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:02AM (#26968809) Homepage

        The difference is nobody actually knew they were going to owe Rambus a ton of royalties. Their IP was essentially "hidden in plain sight", and they waited until it had achieved critical mass before litigating the hell out of everyone to collect.

        It's kind of like the W3C coming out of the clockwork and saying "Hey! I invented the internet! Remember all those RFCs ? Mine. CSS ? Mine. Now give me all your money before I smack you with this patent portfolio."

        It's kind of like being retroactively billed for all the times you've slept with your ex-wife. IRL we call that divorce, but in business it's called fraud.

        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:22AM (#26969031) Homepage Journal

          It's kind of like being retroactively billed for all the times you've slept with your ex-wife. IRL we call that divorce, but in business it's called fraud.

          Well, not like it's easy, but the trick is to find a wife who makes more money than you do. Then, you sue her. Hey, it works on celebrities. Unfortunately, Madonna doesn't return my letters :(

        • It's kind of like being retroactively billed for all the times you've slept with your ex-wife.

          That's why you pay up-front and by the hour ;-)

        • by Abcd1234 (188840)

          It's kind of like the W3C coming out of the clockwork and saying "Hey! I invented the internet! Remember all those RFCs ?

          Uhh, not to nitpick... wait, no, specifically to nitpick, the W3C doesn't generate RFCs. That'd be the IETF's job. Nevertheless, your point is a good one. :)

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by cffrost (885375)

          IRL we call that divorce, but in business it's called fraud.

          We do not use the expression IRL, we use AFK.

      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:03AM (#26968819) Journal
        What is wrong with companies collecting royalties on the products that invented?

        They participated in a consortium whose purpose was to create open standards so everyone on earth could benefit from commodity pricing, and they filed patent protection on processes secretly while leading the members of the consortium to believe that they were operating in good faith.

        They didn't create new technology and ask people if they thought it was fair at this price. They held an industry hostage with lies and deceit. They're garden variety con-artists who belong hanging by their necks from a tree at a crossroads.
        • They're garden variety con-artists who belong hanging by their necks from a tree at a crossroads.

          You know, I'm starting to think we need some more of that. I can't think of a great reason why Madoff, Stamford, and the Enron crew aren't dangling. I mean, can you really imagine a jury convicting a retiree who lost their life's savings to one of those cretins?

          Vigilante justice is a poor substitute for the real thing, but as the State has shown itself unwilling to mete out the legal kind, I won't be surprised when the citizenry steps forward.

          • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @10:46AM (#26970091) Journal

            I have the tar. Did you bring the feathers? Good. Let's roll.

            Aside-

            Ever wonder where common citizens got the tar for their "tar and feathering"? Simple. Tar, which is basically "sticky oil", used to occur naturally. There were lakes of oil/tar just laying-around in random locations, because nobody had a good use for it. Then the industrial revolution happened in the late 1800s, and we burned all the oil/tar in our factories and cars. No more black-colored lakes.

            This is why I find it funny when they say "dumping oil is bad". In a natural environment, without humans, oil and tar bubbles out of the ground constantly. Oil is part of the environment. It's as natural as manure.

            • It's as natural as manure.

              That's an interesting choice of analogy. You may have noticed that over the last couple centuries, we've attempted - with varying degrees of success - to stop leaving shit lying around everywhere, too.

              One sec....

              Ah yes. In the words of the immortal (really) Hob Gadling, re Renfaires:

              "The problem is, there's no shit... people shit, animal shit. You ought to spray everyone with shit as they walk in."

              • >>>we've attempted to stop leaving shit lying around everywhere, too.

                Which is a bad policy, because it's manure that makes the food grow, and manure that makes your grass green, and manure that makes trees vibrant & generate oxygen. If you follow a policy of cleaning up all the "shit" left behind by cows and squirrels and cats and rabbits and worms and birds and..... pretty soon you'll have dead soil. Manure is natural. You can't have a "green economy" without it.

            • Not to go too far offtopic, but I was intrigued by your post and looked into it a bit more.

              According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], "There are only a few known asphalt lakes [the proper term for tar pit] worldwide."

              Probably seems for the best to keep it that way then.

              • Not to go too far offtopic, but I was intrigued by your post and looked into it a bit more.

                You should subscribe to his newsletter.

              • >>>"There are only a few known asphalt lakes [the proper term for tar pit] worldwide."

                Yes. Today. But in the 1700s and previous centuries they were very common. That's how the Founding Fathers were able to easily get the tar they used for their tar&feathering.

                • Interesting, do you have a cite for this? I couldn't find anything on it after a minute or two Googling. Just a lot of junk on the La Brea tar pits.

        • >>>they filed patent protection on processes secretly while leading the members of the consortium to believe that they were operating in good faith.

          So they acted like my es-girlfriend, but did Not break the law, hence why the Supreme Court found no fault.

        • Sorta like Microsoft but not as systematic.
      • by khallow (566160)
        I don't know for sure, but from what I gather, RAMBUS patented technology that 1) they agreed not to patent, and 2) that was often developed by other companies.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The problem is that they hid the fact that they had a patent on a part of a specification that they were a committee member in creating. While they had their own specification.

        First of all, conflict of interest, though everyone knew RDRAM was dead in computers, because it was frigging expensive. *
        Second of all, they tried to use said patent to mess with the common standard, by driving prices up to the same level.

        A patent is by definition a monopoly, and thus it's even more clear cut, IMO than the Microsoft

    • ...following the economic crash, people are seeking to get back to "business as usual" failing to appreciate that "business as usual" is what caused the crash...

      This part of his post is in dispute.

      It seems that those that tend towards the left believe this, while those that tend right claim the big issue is over regulation and control by our government.

      Either way it isn't really relevant here.

      • It's called a bubble. Things were valued at a rate that was not accurate (i.e. houses and mortgage stocks were priced double their real worth), and now the rate is being corrected to its true value. Same thing that happened in the 2000 bubble. And the 1991 bubble. And the 1929 bubble.

        Who is to blame? Whoever rewrote the regulations which allowed banks to leverage 10,000 times their actual dollar holdings, which created the initial bubble of artificially-inflated prices. Dems? Reps? I'm inclined to s

        • ...Same thing that happened in the 2000 bubble. And the 1991 bubble. And the 1929 bubble...

          I think you missed a few in there.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        You're definitely right that it doesn't belong in this particular topic.

        But I do think that it's kind of telling that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) stated "We're running out of rich people in this country."

        If that's the sort of spoiled attitude that the Right is willing to be associated with when people are having serious trouble paying their bills, perhaps there isn't anywhere near enough regulation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dunkelfalke (91624)

      actually, the memory manufacturers priced rdram chips so high (and ddr ram so low they made losses with it) as a revenge for rambus lawsuits and to drive rambus out of market.

    • by jcnnghm (538570)

      Not that anyone in this day and age learns from mistakes any longer -- following the economic crash, people are seeking to get back to "business as usual" failing to appreciate that "business as usual" is what caused the crash.

      The economic crash occurred because the government forced lenders to make bad loans to people that couldn't afford them by creating a secondary market for the notes which overvalued the assets so people like Franklin Raines could get their full bonuses. It has nothing to do with "business as usual", especially at technology companies.

      • Nobody 'forced' the lenders to make bad loans, they only needed the least little bit of encouragement to do so. It was not coersion, it may well have been entrapment though.

        Don't get me wrong, the greedy bastards should have acted more professionally, (and certainly should have received bailout money for their supid business practices) but there is a case to be made for entrapment as a defense for criminal negligence.
      • by spacefiddle (620205) <spacefiddle&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @12:22PM (#26971793) Homepage Journal

        the government forced lenders to make bad loans

        Yeah, unrestrained greed and lack of accountability had nothing to do with it. Banks like PNC, who avoided the feeding frenzy and were laughed at by their peers for not cashing in on the FotM, were substantially penalized by- no, wait, they've actually come out stronger and gobbled up some of their gambling competition....

    • by Raenex (947668)

      Not that anyone in this day and age learns from mistakes any longer -- following the economic crash, people are seeking to get back to "business as usual" failing to appreciate that "business as usual" is what caused the crash. (Interestingly, the great depression spawned all kinds of lessons and wisdom that carried for generations... it wasn't really until most of the great depression survivors died that this crash occurred.)

      Big crashes are like earthquakes. They're going to happen. There was plenty of minor to large cases of corruption, greed, and bubbles that burst between the Great Depression and the current crash. Any time I hear statements like "in this day and age" I know what follows is likely to be somebody looking at the past with rose-colored glasses.

  • by purpledinoz (573045) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:36AM (#26968593)
    I was really hoping Rambus would lose this case. This decision is a loss to everyone because it means that companies can now secretly get patented items into standards, which will really hinder the standards making process (which by the way, is a great benefit to the consumer). I hope everyone just refuses to do business with Rambus and let it go bankrupt.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      This problem is easily solved, although I agree it is unfortunate. All you have to do is require at the time of membership that those who join a standards group agree to waive any and all rights to any patents which cover the standard. This will reduce membership, which is a good thing, because those who would no longer be interested obviously want to control the process for their own ends anyway.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:54AM (#26968749) Journal

      Not really. In the future standards committees will simply require companies to sign a "full disclosure" contract, so that if a technology is owned by one of the companies (say Sony), then it will be revealed to all the participants. And if Sony does not reveal that fact, the company can be sued for breach-of-contract.

    • This is by no means is the final ruling on these matters. If other companies try the same thing, they can be brought to court as Rambus was. The appeals court and the Supreme Court's decision to decline to hear the case in no way set precedent.
    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      I hope everyone just refuses to do business with Rambus and let it go bankrupt.

      In a way, the problem is self-solving in that regard. Rambus is no longer a member of JEDEC [jedec.org], and you can bet that anyone associated with JEDEC (which includes the memory manufacturers) is probably going to consider Rambus a perpetual "second choice" for RAM tech. In the end, they need to sell their product to survive beyond the patent expiration of the stuff they slipped into SDRAM on the sly, and making a name for yourself as a "bad faith" company is a bad way to do that.

  • Can be dealt with (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chrisq (894406)
    Surely there are methods of dealing with this. One way would be to have all companies contributing, officially commenting on, or doing anything that could affect a standards decision sign a waiver of all patent rights applying to the standard.

    Open standards should be immune from patents, if anyone believes that their patent will be infringed they should bring it up during the standards process.
    • by shentino (1139071)

      We call that the v3 GPL :)

      Except for GNU's philosophical rhetoric, the GPL is the perfect license to use in general. Anyone wanting to contribute to a GPL project has to give up

      On other notes...wouldn't waiting for the market to get critical before surfacing with a submarine patent be considered "laches"? Why are the courts letting them get away with being lazy poachers?

      If rambus really wanted to enforce its patent rights they'd have brought up their patents right then and there.

      I mean, come on, there's g

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:52AM (#26968731) Homepage

    The FTC argued in court papers filed in Washington that Rambus âoewaited to assert its patent interests until the new standards had been widely implemented.â The agency said Rambus then âoedemanded stiff royalties from makers of the great majority of computer memory chips.â

    I thought this case was about Rambus filing patents for ideas that were brought up during the committee planning of the memory standard. That would mean that their patents are invalid, and that they essentially stole them. But that doesn't seem like what the FTC based their case on. The article makes it look like all Rambus did was wait to assert their patents, which is jerkass but perfectly legal.

    Am I confusing this with another case?

    • by Chirs (87576)

      They pushed to create a standard based on ideas that they already had patents on, without disclosing it.

      Basically, if everyone else on the committee had known that the ideas were already patented, they would never have created a standard based on them.

  • How the Court Works (Score:5, Informative)

    by north.coaster (136450) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:56AM (#26968773) Homepage

    The FTC had found that Rambus undermined competition by getting secretly patented technology included in industry standards, but the Supremes evidently didn't agree.

    Actually, the Court's decision not to hear the case only implies that a majority of the judges did believed that there was a compelling reason to hear the case. Quoting from here [wikipedia.org]:

    The Court grants a petition for certiorari only for "compelling reasons," spelled out in the court's Rule 10. Such reasons include, without limitation:

    • to resolve a conflict in the interpretation of a federal law or a provision of the federal constitution
    • to correct an egregious departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings
    • to resolve an important question of federal law, or to expressly review a decision of a lower court that conflicts directly with a previous decision of the Court.

    Which of these reasons would have justified the Court to hear this case?

    • to resolve an important question of federal law, or to expressly review a decision of a lower court that conflicts directly with a previous decision of the Court.

      Which of these reasons would have justified the Court to hear this case?

      That one. Courts have generally looked down on Fraud. Except this time, apparently.

    • by pjt33 (739471)

      "Without limitation". It may also be the case that this is an important question of federal law not previously ruled upon by the USSC.

      BTW, FWIW, although the Wikipedia article doesn't obviously link to a source for this section the actual text [cornell.edu] is available elsewhere.

    • by sgtrock (191182)

      "to correct an egregious departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings"

      That one. The Appellate Court ruling was wrong on its face. Too bad the Supremes didn't see it that way. :(

      • by kscguru (551278) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @11:31AM (#26970817)
        None of the courts (except the first) made any ruling whatsoever about whether Rambus' actions were illegal, despite most of the comments on this thread claiming the courts said that. And though I can't find the court opinions, I would be surprised if the Appellate Court challenged that at all. See, a case like this requires (A) proving that Rambus did a nasty thing, and (B) proving that the nasty thing is against the law. Part (A) belongs in the original court and is extremely hard to appeal; part (B) gets appealed everywhere. The Appellate Court found that the FTC didn't prove part (B), and the Supreme court agreed.

        Believe it or not, the court system is pretty good at throwing out crappy lawsuits. The courts cannot just declare a company assholes, they can only rule upon the proof of assholeness brought before them. The FTC screwed up the case.

  • by imsabbel (611519) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:20AM (#26969007)

    Is that it will force asian companies to pay money to an american company.

    So the Supreme Court might have just a little bias there...

  • Interesting... this prompted me to go look for the In Re: Bilski appeal to the supreme court.

    This Rambus decision has docket number 08-694, and Bilski has docket number 08-964. (Both about important patent issues affecting the computer industry).
    What are the odds of me making a typo and finding another important patent case.

  • Isn't Rambus old technology, that only lived for a short time on a few architectures, while everyone uses DDR memory today and even while rambus existed? If so, why even bother.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Because, apparently a lot of the design specs in DDR are patented by Rambus (and were part of the old Rambus ram, which is what made it so fast). Rambus was involved in the creation of said design specs, or at least the over-arching standards that led to DDR, and didn't tell anybody that they had patents on these things.

      If this is the case, then anybody who has ever sold or will sell DDR ram owes Rambus cash money. This will cause the price of DDR to skyrocket (probably about the same as the old, now defu

  • The declared purpose of patents is to put designs in public view, with the reward being legal protection for the patent holder to make the device or license it to others for a certain time.

    If Rambus or any other corporation or person applies for a patent on a device, this is no longer "secret"

    K.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by north.coaster (136450)

      Not quite. Under some circumstances, a US patent application can remain unpublished for up to eighteen months after filing. See here [uspto.gov].

      So it's possible for someone to file a patent application, then choose not to disclose the application for a period of time. I am not sure if this happened in the RAMBUS case - I am just pointing out that patent applications are not always immediately made public.

  • I was thinking about this yesterday, and came up with a bit of an idea about copyrights.

    I think many of us here recognize copyright and patents are designed to serve a good, to protect an artist or inventor, for a limited period of time, and then release the work of art or invention into the public domain so that people may benefit from it without being held hostage by the creator indefinitely, but that the current time frame for both patents is probably too long.

    My new recommendation for copyright is that

  • Headline is "Supreme Court Sides With Rambus Over FTC". This is wrong. The Supreme Court did not take sides in the case.
    Without comment, they let stand an appeals court decision favoring Rambus.
    The Supreme court takes about 80 cases a year out of about 8,000 submitted. As for the 7,920 that aren't heard, the Court isn't taking sides at all.
    They are staying out of it.
    This kind of headline is a frequent journalism error in coverage of the court.
    *post is insightful and informative, possibly redundant.*

    • by shentino (1139071)

      I think the low percentage of cases appealed to SCOTUS that actually review is a symptom of how overworked the court system is.

      We need to implement a loser pays system.

      For those of you say that would put a burden on the little guy, I disagree for the following reasons

      1. Big companies that use lawyers to squash people usually win a settlement anyway, so at worst, all you'd have is a guy bankrupting out of a set of attorney's fees that he would have skipped in the first place.
      2. The truly innocent won't be

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