Background

Having offered commitments to the Commission in an attempt to end the investigation into an alleged abuse of dominance in the form of a “patent ambush” (see our previous briefing on this), Rambus announced in December that these commitments had been accepted by the Commission. This brings the matter to a close following a long and detailed investigation.

Antitrust issues

The Commission had originally opened proceedings against Rambus in July 2007 reacting to complaints brought by certain DRAM manufacturers following Rambus’ 1992-1995 participation in a US industry standard-setting organisation, the Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC). The Commission was concerned that Rambus had engaged in so-called “patent ambush” whereby it intentionally concealed the fact that it had patents and patent applications which were relevant to technology used in the JEDEC standard, subsequently claiming royalties for those patents.

Similar charges had been pursued by the Federal Trade Commission in the US but that investigation was closed following a series of US court rulings finding that allegations of Rambus’ wrong-doing were ill-founded.

Commission's conclusions

To address the Commission’s concerns, Rambus has committed to put a worldwide cap on its royalty rates for products compliant with the JEDEC standards for the next five years. These commitments were accepted by the Commission, having received industry feedback from third parties. As part of the settlement, the Commission has made no finding of liability and imposed no fine.