Friday, January 21, 2005

RAMBUS SAVORS THE WIN (AND SO DO THEIR ATTORNEYS): Last Wednesday, the Los Altos company's stock fell 16 percent Wednesday after it reported disappointing earnings. Then Thursday, Rambus' shares soared 13 percent after the designer of memory-chip technology won a ruling in a San Jose patent-litigation case.

The legal ruling issued Thursday came in a patent dispute with South Korean memory-chip manufacturer Hynix Semiconductor, the second-largest maker of dynamic random access memory chips, or DRAMs. The chips are used in everything from video-game machines to computers.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte ruled that no trial was necessary on 29 of 59 of Rambus' patent claims because it was clear Hynix violated them.

If upheld, the judgment would mean Hynix could owe damages and royalty payments on a big chunk of its annual $4 billion revenue in DRAM chips. The ruling is good news for Rambus, but it's just one of many legal cases involving its technology.

The litigation cost Rambus about $23 million last year. At stake is whether Rambus can collect royalties on revenue for the $26 billion DRAM industry.

-- I just did some math - assuming that $20 million of the $23 million figure reflects the legal services charged by the firms representing them (yeah, I know that's wrong, but it's convenient), it would take 20 attorneys billing 2000 hours at $500/hr apiece to reach that amount in a year . . . not bad for a year's work.

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