Micron ends long legal fight by paying millions in licensing fees

dstaats@idahostatesman.comDecember 10, 2013 

0730 biz micron

Micron Technology campus in Boise, ID.

JOE JASZEWSKI — Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Boise’s Micron Technology Inc. has ended its 13-year battle with a Silicon Valley memory-chip design company by agreeing to pay the company up to $280 million.

Micron agreed to pay Rambus Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., up to $10 million per quarter for the next seven years. The payments will give Micron the right to use any Rambus patents to manufacture memory products, including the use of certain patents even after the payments end.

The two companies settled all outstanding patent and antitrust claims.

“This milestone agreement puts years of legal disputes behind both companies and opens doors for future cooperation,” said Ron Black, president and CEO of Rambus.

In one dispute that went to trial in 2011, jurors in San Francisco were forced to sit through 15 weeks of proceedings and testimony in Rambus's lawsuit against Micron and Korea's Hynix Semiconductor Inc. Jurors they deliberated for eight weeks before deciding in Micron’s favor.

Rambus claimed the two companies had conspired a decade earlier to lower certain chip prices and had backed off a commitment to make dynamic random-access memory designed by Rambus. Rambus also contended Micron and Hynix tried to interfere with its business relationship with Intel Corp. and drove it away from a collaboration on a Rambus-designed memory product in the 1990s.

Rambus appealed that ruling in 2012.

Rambus and Micron were involved in other legal battles too. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared an obstacle in Rambus’s pursuit of patent royalties from semiconductor makers. Though that lawsuit was brought by Hynix, the ruling helped Rambus sustain its pursuit of patent royalties from Micron.

The license agreement was announced late Monday. Micron’s stock rose 2 cents in Tuesday trading, closing at $23.14 and continuing its recent steady ascent. Rambus closed at $9.58, up $1.05.

David Staats: 377-6417.

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