In early February 2010, the European Commission (Commission) published the binding commitments it accepted from Rambus Inc. (Rambus), a designer and developer of high-speed memory chip technology. Rambus was alleged to have claimed abusive royalties for the use of patents for Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) chips after concealing patents and patent applications during the standard-setting process. The Commission alleged that Rambus abused a dominant position in breach of Article 102 TFEU in engaging in ‘patent ambush’ in order to charge higher royalty rates. In offering the commitments, Rambus has not admitted liability for the alleged infringements but has agreed to address the Commission’s concerns by: (i) agreeing for five years not to charge royalties for certain existing standards; (ii) capping the royalty rate for later generations of DRAM standards at 1.5%; and (iii) offering the 1.5% royalty rate to all market participants and guaranteeing this rate to the industry as a maximum. The case is an interesting example of the way in which the case law on abuse of a dominant position is moving into new areas including issues relating to open standards. For further discussion of these developments, follow the link below to a recently published article on the subject.

Abuse of dominance

Click here for an article on ‘Abuse of Dominance in the EU: the evolving law and practice’.