On 9 December, the Commission announced its decision to accept an offer made by Rambus Inc, a California based chip maker, to lower royalty rates on certain patents for its dynamic random access memory (“DRAM”) chips. DRAM chips are used to temporarily store data, for instance, in PCs.
The investigation dates back to 2007, when the Commission alleged that Rambus had violated the EU antitrust law on abuse of dominant position. The Commission was concerned that Rambus was committing what it described as a “patent ambush” by claiming abusive royalties for the use of its patents. Rambus had failed to notify the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) that it held some of the patents which were necessary to comply with the new international DRAM standards which were being developed by the Council. Rambus then attempted to enforce the patents against DRAM manufacturers which were complying with the new international standards.
Rambus has now offered to put a worldwide cap on its royalty rates for products that conform to JEDEC standards, during a five year period and to charge zero royalties for certain patents which were adopted when Rambus was a member of JEDEC. The Commission’s decision confirms that it considers these commitments to be adequate to address its competition concerns.
IP/09/1897 – 9 December 2009