Several Moore’s Law generations ago, in a land not too far away, a legal battle began. Rambus sued Samsung, claiming that its competitor--which had agreed to license some elements of its intellectual property portfolio--had infringed upon its patents for SDRAM and DDR PC memory, and GDDR2 and GDDR3 graphics memory, and had engaged in anticompetitive practices aimed at shutting Rambus out of the memory market.
Six years after the legal proceedings began, the seemingly perpetual litigants announced that they have come to settlement terms aimed at, among other things, ending the steady flow of corporate earnings into the coffers of each side’s attorneys. The settlement calls for Samsung to pay restitution in several ways: a US $200 million lump sum; a $25 million payment each quarter for the next five years; a $200 million purchase of Rambus stock; and a partridge in a pear tree.
The upfront payment settles Rambus’ claims for royalties owed by Samsung on DDR DRAMs using Rambus technology that have already shipped. The quarterly disbursements will cover licensing fees for the next five years. Oddly enough, by buying stock in Rambus, Samsung stands to gain if Rambus wins in court against Micron Technology and Hynix Semiconductor, Samsung’s former co-defendants in the intellectual property lawsuit. Rambus filed suit against the three companies in 2004, alleging that they had made a pact to fix prices so Rambus would not be able to sell its memory chips.