|O.K. the party is finally over, everyone can come out and shake hands and have a beer at Pats Place. |
The Rambus legal team should be able to cover the cost for the beer,
Rambus Loses the BIG one
By DON CLARK Rambus Inc. lost more than 60% of its market value Wednesday, after a San Francisco jury rejected the Silicon Valley company's allegations in an antitrust case that sought billions of dollars in damages.
The jury, in a 9-3 vote after more than eight weeks of deliberations, ruled that defendants Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor didn't conspire to prevent Rambus technology from taking hold in the market.
Rambus, which designs technology used in memory chips, had sought nearly $4 billion in direct damages for the harm it allegedly suffered in the case, an amount that can be instantly tripled under California law. It also asked for punitive damages.
The company has been involved in many patent and antitrust cases, which have tended to make its stock swing wildly on verdicts or other developments. The case against Micron and Hynix was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court in 2004.
Trading in Rambus shares was halted for several hours pending the verdict. Once it resumed, the stock plummeted nearly 61%, trading at $7.11, off $10.93, at 4 p.m. on Nasdaq.
Micron's shares, after they were also temporarily halted from trading, rose 23%, or $1.28, to $6.74.
Rambus said it was disappointed in the ruling and would consider an appeal, based on several rulings that affected how the case was presented to the jury.
"We believe very strongly in our case, and we intend to explore all of our options as long as we have channels available to us," said Chief Executive Harold Hughes in a conference call.
The company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., in the 1990s had hoped to convince other companies to license its technology for accelerating the performance of memory chips. The technology initially won endorsements from Intel Corp., which helps set standard for technology used in PCs.
But the technology was outsold by alternatives. After failing in its initial strategy, Rambus began filing patent infringement suits against chip makers.
Rambus also filed the private antitrust suit, which accused Micron and Hynix of price-fixing and other illegal joint actions. The suit initially also initially named Samsung Electronics Co., which was dropped from the case after reaching a settlement with Rambus in January 2010; Samsung agreed to pay $900 million over five years.
The company's antitrust suit followed disclosure of a broad Department of Justice investigation of price-fixing in memory chips, which generated big fines against many chip makers. Micron received amnesty in exchange for aiding the investigation, but Samsung agreed to pay $300 million and Hynix paid $185 million.
Micron and Hynix insisted in the antitrust case that any failings of Rambus in the market were due to issues with its technology and other factors.
Steve Appleton, Micron's chief executive, praised the jury for finding the Rambus allegations without merit. "The jury's verdict validates our assertion that Micron acted in accordance with the law and consistent with its values of innovation and fair competition in the marketplace," he said in prepared remarks.
Hynix said it was "grateful" the jury "rejected Rambus's meritless claim," in a statement issued by O.C. Kwon, its chief executive.
The 12-member jury began lengthy deliberations in late September after a trial lasting three months. The time elapsed, and the 9-3 vote, may indicate jury members struggled to reach agreements on key points. Nine votes is required for a verdict under the court's rules.
"It appears that perhaps they were split in there for a long time," said Michael Cohen, an analyst with MDC Financial Research and Rambus investor who has tracked the case.
The jury ruled against Rambus on the two fundamental questions in the case. One asked whether Hynix and Micron conspired to artificially keep the price of chips using Rambus technology high and a competing technology low to hurt the company's prospects in the market. Another asked whether the Hynix and Micron had obstructed relations between Rambus and Intel
Read more: online.wsj.com