Rambus Exploits a Broken System -- Again

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The legal attack eagles of Rambus (Nasdaq: RMBS  ) are at it again. On the heels of a juicy new license contract with memory maker Elpida, the memory technologist has convinced U.S. authorities to investigate a really, really big patent infringement case.

Rambus filed this action at the start of December in a 214-page filing, plus 536 digital files containing exhibits. I don't blame the International Trade Commission for taking some time to think about tackling this case, especially that close to the holidays.

The battleground
At the heart of this enormous filing lie six chipmakers, whose products allegedly use Rambus' patented technologies without a proper license. We're talking about big names with far-reaching connections in the IT industry, including American chip wranglers Broadcom (Nasdaq: BRCM  ) , NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) , Freescale, and LSI (NYSE: LSI  ) . Rambus wants to stop all of them from selling infringing products in America until the ITC has banged its gavel and imposed proper punishment.

That has ripple effects across the computing industry. In a joint comment to the ITC, the accused don't even try very hard to dispute the infringement itself, but instead argue that blocking their business would cause considerable harm to the American economy:

The sheer scope and variety of accused articles makes it likely, if not inevitable, that any exclusion order excluding all accused products found to be infringing would have a material impact on public health and safety. ... Rambus' patenting and licensing actions actually frustrate, rather than advance, the competitive conditions in the economy.

Indeed. Along with the semiconductor companies at the heart of the conflict, Rambus also seeks to block 18 of their customers from selling devices with the errant circuits inside. For example, the proposed action would cause severe damage to Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , both of whom use Broadcom and LSI chips in their networking equipment and servers.

I can't imagine the commission wanting to do that to such a distinguished, deep-pocketed, and lobby-happy bunch of true-blue American businesses. The body has promised to set a target date for completing the investigation within 45 days of starting it.

Drawing the line
On the one hand, we have what looks like a legitimate patentholder seeking to protect its intellectual property. On the other hand, the actions taken to do so come with serious and undesirable side effects. And the whole mess is a product of a badly broken intellectual property framework that was designed for Pony Express communications and buggy whip designs centuries ago, then never fully updated to reflect the digital ages.

The defendants argue that Rambus bases its business model on legal threats, including the purchase of patents for the sole purpose of launching lawsuits. In some cases, it's impossible to follow commonly accepted business standards without stepping on Rambus' legal toes.

Some would simply call this a smart business model -- legal settlements have covered the entire cost of Rambus' R&D efforts over the last 12 months. So the patent system is flawed; wouldn't Rambus be stupid not to exploit those imperfections?

But I'm solidly in the corner of the defendants here, and of every target of patent trolling. It's one thing to actively invent and develop bleeding-edge technologies and then make a living off those patents, as Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL  ) does with OLED licenses.

When Universal Display launches a press release, it's typically because the company wants to highlight a technology improvement, another government contract, or -- yes, indeed -- another renewed or brand-new licensing agreement. I suppose litigation is part of the company's arsenal, but it's a weapon rarely wielded.

By contrast, Rambus is as likely to announce another lawsuit or trumpet the outcome of one as it is to talk about technology. In the company's earnings calls, General Counsel Tom Lavelle and semiconductor general manager/licensing chief Sharon Holt are as important to the proceedings as CEO Harold Hughes and CFO Satish Rishi. Universal Display doesn't even bring its licensing and litigation people to its calls.

The final conflict
Rambus will probably get a settlement or two out of this action when all is said and done, along with a handful of license agreements that are nothing but profit margin for the company. Well-played under the prevailing rulebook, I suppose.

But it's a victory for a monstrous business model that has no business being in business. Isn't it time we overhauled the legal framework? Industry standards like low-level memory interfaces shouldn't be bought and sold like heads of cattle, earmarked, and firebranded for the protection of a middleman rancher that didn't do much to raise the animals in the first place.

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. Where do you stand in this ugly intellectual property conflict? Spill your beans in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Universal Display is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. NVIDIA is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. Motley Fool Alpha owns shares of Cisco Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

Read/Post Comments (53) | Recommend This Article (16)

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  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 3:17 PM, nordicprince wrote:

    IP is ever heard of a better mousetrap?...why should rmbs have to apologize for not manufacturing?...the scientist who invents a lighter, stronger metal should not get paid since he doesn't actually forge it?...every appeals court that has ever heard a rmbs case has decided in favor of rmbs...anyone spending a minimal amount of time objectively examing the history will realize rmbs is just a little David facing off with a big ol' nasty Goliath, and all rmbs has on its side is truth, justice, and the American way ;-)

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 3:35 PM, Maple6239 wrote:

    Mr Bylund, you are grossly misinformed. You need to broaden your range of source material.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 3:41 PM, TechnoWreck wrote:

    Remember the 1990s when Intel was producing super fast processors, but PCs were still way slow because of the antiquated memory technology. Was that problem worth solving? Is the solution of value? Well bad old Rambus solved it. The solution was called synchronous memory and the founders of Rambus invented that solution. Should Rambus get paid for removing the bottle neck and unleashing today’s fast machines? The author of this “piece” seems to think not. Inventors should be paid for valuable solutions. Rambus is still fighting more than a decade later to get paid for this great advancement called synchronous memory.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 3:46 PM, jstudhawk wrote:


  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 3:51 PM, pk22901 wrote:


    Shame on you.

    You are seriously ignorant of the facts exposed during a decade of litigation collusively masterminded by Micron and other memory makers.

    It's been one of the most audacious and lucrative ($Billions) heists in high tech: the Micron led gang of thieves stole the fundamental IP necessary to produce all modern memory while colluding to price fix (all pled guilty in Federal court), propagandize, and litigate the source of that IP, Rambus, to death.

    How come you haven't read the 10 or so judgments of federal judges and the CAFC?

    Are you in favor of our US inventions being flagrantly appropriated without compensation?

    Are you in favor of powerful cartels conspiring to kill a small (400 brilliant engineers) US powerhouse?

    Do you know..

    - Over 15 industry executives have served hard time of 6 months or more (each) after pleading to price fixing collusion?

    - Industry fines for price fixing totaled over $800mm?

    - The price fixing conspiracy was led by Micron who whistle blew (getting amnesty even as it was the ring leader) its co-conspirators into the slammer?


    For the most part, the Japanese Toshiba and Hitachi have paid up w/o litigation. The Korean Samsung and Hynix have infringed (Samsung settling). The US Micron led the conspiracy with intent to bankrupt Rambus through parallel tag team litigation in concert with Hynix.

    Anders, You're paid to be cognizant of the facts and testimony. Read this opinion by the leading patent judge in the US, Honorable Ronald Whyte.

    You can start with the story and docs presented at

    Next time you comment, please do the research.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 3:59 PM, zentrader007 wrote:

    @Mr. Bylund,

    I can't remember to have read a more un-informed article in the last 10 years... :-)

    "...I can't imagine the commission wanting to do that to such a distinguished, deep-pocketed, and lobby-happy bunch of true blue American businesses..."

    I can imagine this!

    If America want to survive economically in future it is urgently necessary to protect IP of innovative "US" companies like Rambus. The big players like Cisco, HP, Broadcom, Nvidia, Freescale, LSI, Micron, Hynix and others are using these patents and technologies illegally. It's important that they are forced to pay immediately for that currently "unpayed / stolen" know how!!!

    Only my two cents,

    zentrader007 (a german engineer)

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 4:09 PM, nostockpro wrote:

    So Anders, you are opposed to incentive based pay structures? You do realize that's how you get paid? An author would never be able to sell an article if they didn't write stuff worth reading.

    Rambus's IP is in basically all electronics built by many of the biggest companies in the world: phones, computers, routers, tvs, cameras. The ideas of American scientists Farmwald and Horowitz, the founders of Rambus, are undeniably crucial to modern society. They must have written some really good stuff, don't you think? They shouldn't get paid but you should?

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 4:15 PM, sonofson wrote:

    The "system" you say is "broken" and "exploited" by Rambus has almost KILLED it!!

    The simple concept of Intellectual Property (IP) seems foreign to you... in the late 80's Rambus founders invented synchronous chip to chip interfaces (they deserve a Nobel prize for that!! and not the hostility and derision they have been subjected to by the press over the years), they then went to the USPTO and have been granted patents for their foundational inventions. According to the US patent law they have the right to exclude unauthorized infringers of their patents and enjoy the protection of the court in case infringement persists.

    Rambus has proved in a federal court that ALL DRAM that use synchronous interfaces and comply with the JEDEC industry standard infringe Rambus' valid and enforceable patents.

    What in gods name should a owner of IP do to enforce its property rights other then ask the for remedy from the courts in a case that property rights are infringed and IP is effectively stolen/pirated?

    The only ones that cynically exploit the broken system are the army of slick $1000/h patent lawyers that defend the gigantic Pirate Armada, aka medium/large/giant technology behemoths that use every trick in the book to manipulate/distort/lie in order to bog down what is a lethargic, inconsistent, under budgeted system to begin with.

    Rambus is the victim of a decade long gang rape (metaphorically speaking) perpetrated by the DRAM cartel and their enablers (certain federal Judges, the FTC, other technology manufacturers and parts of the press)

    For your sake I hope this pathetic opinion you wrote is only a symptom of a tired reporter with a deadline that couldn't bother to do some basic research, the alternative being you are a pawn crony of thieves (whether you realize it or not...)

    Do some more research if you want to be on the right side of this issue when it will soon explode in the faces of many.



  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 4:28 PM, larryekerns wrote:

    You need to get a life. Did The Fool pay you for this article?? Certainly didn't get their money worth.

    Change jobs

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 4:30 PM, mat4521 wrote:

    Mr. Bylund- You are grossly uninformed about Rambus. Rambus made a strategic business decision to go fabless and instead license THEIR inventions many years ago. If not or the thieving ways of companies like Micron, Hynix and Nvidia, the business model would have succeeded and the current litigation would have been avoided. I suggest you read the FTC Administrative Law Judge's ruling and follow that up with the ruling of Judge Whyte in the Rambus v Hynix case. You will be afforded a much more accurate and historically correct version of the events leading up to this litigation.

    The use of the term "patent troll" is a talking point for Rambus' adversaries and yet Judge Whyte dispelled that moniker with regard to Rambus. The large majority of Rambus' patents were invented by their engineers- not bought. Dig through the tens of thousands of pages of legal filings like I have and you will see this situation for what it is- a small, innovative company fighting to survive in a tank of sharks. The defendants have done EVERYTHING to avoid paying Rambus and there is ample evidence that many of them did so while knowing that they were stealing Rambus' inventions. Again, read the legal filings and court decisions and you will get a clearer picture.

    As to the notion that " Rambus is as likely to announce another lawsuit or trumpet the outcome of one as it is to talk about technology." This couldn't be further from the truth. Do some digging on the Rambus website for press releases. You will find many, many releases touting technological advances. You will also find links to the many awards that Rambus and its engineers have received for their work. The fact that Rambus talks about lawsuits is due in no small part to the efforts of a memory cartel that pled guilty to price fixing a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, Rambus has to defend its PROPERTY. I ask you- What would you do if you were in their shoes?

    You talk of a broken system. You should write a piece on our broken legal system that has allowed the defendants to drag this mess out for 10+ years. Now there is a broken system.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 4:35 PM, northbest1 wrote:

    Mr. Bylund

    Is there a Part 2 of this article planned? I hope so, as it would seem that what you have written so far is only half the story.

    I have always thought of Rambus as a company of engineers (majority of their ~350 employee's) who invented interface solutions and have a small staff that tries to monetize them. The base that the engineers built on since 1995 (RDRAM) certainly solved the memory bottleneck (don't you remember, or are you too young?). It was only when Rambus got greedy and ran into the memory maker monopoly that all this legal stuff started. So here they are 12 years later and still in court(s). Can you blame Rambus for trying to get credit for and monetize their inventions? Can you blame the 3 Amigo's (et al) for trying to hold off paying for as long as possible for something’s THEY did NOT invent or license ?

    I can see both sides of this situation, but your article only looks at it from the side which so far has been proved wrong again and again, in both courts and the ITC. The only way you can be accurate is to publish a part 2, and explore the facts and history.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 4:51 PM, fwrobinso wrote:

    What is broken about the system is the theives stealing the intellectual property. The only reason Samsung is not in a lawsuit with Universal Displays is likely because of their loss to InterDigital after years of using their tech without a license. Nokia has waged a scorched earth campaign against InterDigital that they haven't given up on yet.

    Now Dish/Echostar is trying to drive a nail in the coffin of anything left of patent protections, with HP coming out with a amicuris brief in the corner of Dish/Echostar - the theives who have lost that infringement battle at every step, and now wants a new trial at every little tweek in order to just run out the clock on every patent....they have made billions on Tivo's tech and lost Billions in potential for Tivo, just as these other companies have done to RMBS.

    The entire Patent Troll phrase gets old, especially if you understand the history of the phrase and how it's been twisted by articles just like this one.

    I don't blame RMBS for funding an offensive to get some of what should have been theirs all along. Good for RMBS, TIVO, and InterDigital.

    Noone calls QCOM a patent troll because they won a clear victory and the dominoes fell into place. You only get punched w/the patent trolll phrase when your still down and out, and haven't been able to get what should have been yours from the beginning.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:01 PM, KW1964 wrote:

    RMBS had its own problems of evading and cheating in their own game of owning patents. It is very clear that the ARM architecure and its owners made a lot of money by licencing their IP. NVDA, TXN, MS, INTC, and many many others pay for the ARM IP, without questioning or debating. If people seach what RMBS did in the past, they tried many times to hide their intentions in industry standard setting committees with the sole goal of milkng royalty, including breaking rules of committees in doing so. That is, some maybe many patents in RMBS portfolio are not clear even to experts about ownership. This is the problem. We shall pay for IPs, and shall be punished if not. But RMBS did many wrongs, that is why many people did not pay them!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:05 PM, Rambusince99 wrote:

    Where to begin?

    First, the unfortunate use of the term "patent troll". You should know that Rambus now has in excess of 1,000 patents, the VAST majority of which were produced internally. Patent trolls buy patents that are not being enforced and then enforce them. Even at that, the courts have determind that patents are no different from any other property in terms of rights. This pejorative term was even dismissed by Judge Whyte in the Hynix trial, stating that Rambus clearly does not fit within such a category.

    You say "Rambus' patenting and licensing actions actually frustrate, rather than advance, the competitive conditions in the economy"

    Really? So American competition is therefore advanced by those who misappropriate others intellectual property. Not the America I know.

    You say "Industry standards like low-level memory interfaces shouldn't be bought and sold like heads of cattle, earmarked, and firebranded for the protection of a middleman rancher that didn't do much to raise the animals in the first place."

    Interesting analogy and conclusion. So you are saying that Rambus' inventions are not valuable? Fine. Let the market determine that. Further, let the industry innovate around Rambus' IP if they want to, and can do so. Solving the memory bottleneck isn't noteworthy to you? Well, again, the American way is to allow the market to decide. In this case, the market (Memory Manufacturers) conspired to drive Rambus out of business through price collusion. That case comes up in a month. You think that Rambus should not litigate when others steal Rambus' IP. Tell that to IBM's team of litigators too, would you?

    You are an investor in AMD. Good. AMD is one of the reputable, ethical companies that actually paid to use Rambus' inventions. Now if Rambus was the guilty "patent troll" you seem intent upon labelling them, then why did AMD take a license instead of fighting like Micron, Hynix, Nvidia, and others?

    I think if you stepped back from your soap box for five minutes, looked at the facts in this case, and then thought about it more objectively, you would see that Rambus is within its rights and has every duty to its shareholders to litigate when companies use Rambus IP and refuse to pay for it. Imagine yourself as Rambus, who employs and pays the best and brightest engineers to solve tomorrow's problems. Rambus has every right to earning a return on its investment, just like any other company.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:13 PM, KW1964 wrote:

    Shocking to know that I am the only one here that agrees with the author. RMBS has every right to sue and get paid. The problem is RMBS claims many industry standards as their own. Look, the vast majortiy people in semi business get paid for their inventions, including small-time inventors. RMBS has true valuable IPs. But many patents they claim to have are not clear to people outside RMBS about ownership and their validity.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:22 PM, pk22901 wrote:


    Seems like there are a lot of your readers who are reading a different script.

    Please do some real research on this column.

    Here's a Google search term to start with:

    rambus judgment -troll

    See? There are 16000 articles written about Rambus judgments w/o "troll" in them!

    3000 for rambus victim of "Price Fixing Conspiracy"

    326 for "Price Fixing Conspiracy" micron hynix infineon samsung elpida

    4250 for FTC dismisses case rambus

    Anders, don't be lazy. Set things straight. Since this was a 'patent ambush' (not in the usual sense) against an all American company, you have an opportunity to be a patriot and also correct your grievous misapprehension.

    Or, I guess we'll just have to accept that you sir, indeed, are a 'patent troll' (again, not in the usual sense).

    "Patent Troll" - One who ignorantly refers to brilliant American engineers (who literally invented modern computer memory) as 'patent trolls'.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:25 PM, noshortsplease wrote:

    Nice work Anders Bylund. You've managed to infuriate a large universe of techies with your short-sighted, one-sided depiction of Rambus. Had you at least taken the trouble to point out that Rambus has been up against a ruthless and unscrupulous cartel of chip makers who have stolen them blind, during Rambus's quest to make its patents worthy of the vast R & D that went into creating them, then you could have asserted your philosophical problem with their business model, and would not have been met with an outcry for fairness.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:27 PM, pk22901 wrote:

    "The problem is RMBS claims many industry standards as their own."

    Surprise! That's because Rambus actually patented and invented fundamental parts of those stds.

    JEDEC was set up to steal the patents by 'standardizing' them! Now watch closely...

    "What Rambus patents, judge? These are part of our standards. We're not going to pay, unless we're forced." sob sob

    Give an American R&D company its due and pay them. The litigation has been going on for 10 years because the real crooks know how to abuse the US legal system.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:36 PM, Governorxxx wrote:

    Mr. Bylund:

    If you are an ethical journalist, you should issue a retraction and apology. You are simply wrong in saying that Rambus purchased the patents involved in this legal case; they invented the IP in-house and were legally granted the patents which they are entitled to enforce.

    The fact that the defendents don't want to recognize the legitimacy of the patents and have used the IP for years without paying is the problem here.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:38 PM, 142536 wrote:

    WOW are you ever WRONG!

    RMBS invented the technology that makes the modern computer chips function efficiently while using less power.

    Perhaps you should read Motley Fools Rules which contain a plethora of Itellectual Property protection warnings: Please see paragraph 5 below:


    5. Intellectual Property

    All of the Content on our websites and any Service we provide is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and is the property of The Motley Fool and/or providers of the content under license. By "Content" we mean any information, mode of expression, or other materials and services found on The Motley Fool. This includes message boards, blogs, CAPS picks, chats, software, our writings, graphics, CAPS entries and ratings, and any and all other features. You can find out more information on copyright law and the Internet at

    You may make one copy of the Content for your personal, non-commercial use, provided that any material copied remains intact and includes the following notice: "Copyright 1995-2010 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved." Any other copying, distribution, storing, or transmission of any kind, or any commercial use of our Content, is prohibited without The Fool's prior written permission. That means you may not sell, auction, transfer or barter your subscription or any individual publication. You can make or end your own CAPS picks at any time, but those picks, their scoring history, your scoring history, and data aggregated by CAPS remain the property of The Motley Fool. You also may not republish, post, transmit or distribute the Content to online bulletin and message boards, blogs, chat rooms, intranets or anywhere else without our consent. You further agree not to create abstracts from or scrape our Content, including CAPS ratings, for use on another website or service. Aside from opening yourself up to liability, distributing our premium Services to other sites and forums is unfair to our members who pay good money to receive our Content. So please don't do it.

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    What should the Motley fool do, as an owner of IP, to enforce its property rights if some one steals the copywrite, and disregards your ownership rights?

    You march down to the courts and ask for a remedy. Would that make the Fool an IP TROLL? Of course not. But when IP is stolen from RMBS, and they sue, AND NEARLY ALWAYS WIN, RMBS is FALSELY CALLED a patent troll. You need to wake up and smell the coffee~!

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:41 PM, KW1964 wrote:

    Anders shall not apologize to nobody for this article. Some of the posters here may be RMBS people. If that is how RMBS operates, it is not shocking at all!

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 5:49 PM, KW1964 wrote:

    IBM then can claim a few dollars for every PC made since 1980. Apple should get paid for every mouse on the planet. These two alone can be worth 10s of billions. I hope RMBS can still buy these two "patents". I am sure IBM and Apple will be happy to sell.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 6:01 PM, nostockpro wrote:


    You wrote:

    "The problem is RMBS claims many industry standards as their own. .... But many patents they claim to have are not clear to people outside RMBS about ownership and their validity."

    Incorrect. FYI, those exact accusations have been shot down in court. They originated from lawsuits brought by a consortium of memory manufacturers who have since been convicted and fined hundreds of millions by the USDOJ for collusion. Many of their executives served time in jail.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 6:07 PM, KW1964 wrote:

    There were disputes and confusions about RMBS patents. RMBS has been doing well. Apple, Google, IBM, ARMH, et al are doing much better. I do not think RMBS has respect or is known for their IP work (they did good work, no questions about this). If your neighbour has been taking everybody and everyone to court for years and years without ending because of something, no matter what good this person did, the respect is gone forever.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 6:26 PM, aeneas2009 wrote:

    Say that RMBS had nothing to do with the development of a product, but the developers of that product wish to sell and be rewarded for their intellectual efforts. It is the RMBSes of the world who will force the users of the product to out bid RMBS in the first place so that the users don't get caught in an infringement case like this one. If it were'nt for RMBS, the original developers would have received even less for their intellectual property. RMBS' winning this case will force users to pay developers more for their property in the future. Who are the real victims, the original pioneers who were no rewarded enough for their work.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 6:41 PM, tm8710 wrote:

    OK, how about this, Anders?

    1) About forty people who write for global business journals take all of the copyrighted material you've ever created and recycle it under their names, freely plagiarizing, stealing and make money from it without ever even acknowledging your existence.

    2) You call all of them up and protest, but almost every one of them either laughs at you or ignores you entirely.

    3) You then file formal legal complaints against these copyright infringers through your lawyers. You think that they have done a pretty good job for you.

    4) However, through incompetence, laziness and even corruption, many of the judges rule against you, citing unrelated matters, circumstantial suppositions conjured up by your enemies. Some judges are sympathetic, however, but they are played by the infringers in a way that results in endless delays (e.g., sick lawyers, the dog ate my briefs, etc.), allowing your complaints to be tied up in the legal system for over a decade. In one case, a jury decides unanimously in your favor, but the judge refuses to finalize your case for years.

    5) In the meantime, another even less competent judge in another state issues another ruling counter to the first judge. This snarls your cases up in the legal system for additional time. You file appeals, which take at least another year.

    6) You now have spent more than you even earn on legal fees, not to mention the time, stress and distraction.

    7) All this time, you read in the media that you are "exploiting" other reputable writers in the courts to get money from them (i.e., licenses and damages). You are called a "Copyright Troll" and these articles are fueled by subterfuge and evil "spin" by the copyright infringers themselves.

    8) You have offered to reasonably settle with your infringers, but they refuse, knowing that they can eventually beat you into the ground until you disappear using the slothful, broken legal system. They know that time is on their side.

    9) Finally, all of your brilliant and eloquent creative expression is sucked out of you, because there is no longer any incentive to create.


    Some responsible journalists do the necessary research before writing about this subject. Sure, it's complicated and time-consuming. But every job well done is the result of proper experience, research and background.

    Others just go on impressions which have been shaped by other writers which in turn have been shaped a cartel of infringers and anti-trust violators.

    Guess which group you're in?

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2010, at 8:52 PM, richardwaldo wrote:

    Wow. You definitely have some (?) angry Rambus readers.

    Nobel Prize for chip technology? come on.

    Valid IP is and should be defensible. In this case there's a little more to the story. But, they did win some cases, so, legally they have standing.

    Your point, I believe, is not that they are legally wrong, but that the system that allows them to be legally correct - about this - is wrong. A sticky question.

    I definitely agree that the system is way way broken. How to fix it is not an easy question. To me, a patent on one-click-checkout is totally absurd, but a patent on the mouse itself (not Apple's invention by the way) makes good sense. How to separate them is not an easy question, as the lines get pretty blurry in the middle.

    Any way, you sure got somebody riled.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 12:08 AM, StockgeniusII wrote:

    I been a Rambus long term suffering shareholder since 1999! I have mostly negative articles on the Rambus and have come to the conclusion years ago that they are bought and paid for by their opponents.

    Rambus is a small IP company. It generates revenue by licencsing its patents to others. When they steal them and then Rambus is force to sue them - for payment that has continued for the past 13 years or more - without a single dollar of earnings. They have always appeal and their have been corrupt judges that ruled without considering case law; but Rambus did win in CAFC and then the case is sent back to lower court and continued and here we are again.

    I feel that I will final get justice and appreciation of my investment in Rambus. This writer and others have no idea what they are talking about!

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 6:38 AM, rav55 wrote:

    I think that I will patent an "Improved Method for Accessing Sequential Floors in a Structure".

    Using a common set of stairs you run up or down them skipping every other step. You get there faster. Now I can sue the world and every person who climbs stairs using every other step.

    Now this being a set of instructions is "software" and it describes a method so it is patentable.

    Nobody better skips steps when climbing stairs or I'll sue you.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 7:18 AM, zentrader007 wrote:


    this comment regarding IBM shows that you and some others don't get the point.

    Companies of the USA, Japan and Europe (e.g. Germany) have to protect their IP seriously, if these countries will have a chance to survive economically in future against more growing countries like China, India, Brasil, Korea etc. etc.

    And compared to IBM, Samsung, HP, Micron, Broadcom, LSI, Nvidia etc. etc. Rambus is only a little "patent owner" (Rank 225 in 2009):

    Patent and technology protection is a basic behaviour in our economy. Like IBM and all the other owners Rambus try to protect their IP rights.

    Think about it and about the fundamental basis of western wealth and power!



  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 10:16 AM, printanything wrote:

    This article is garbage and so are you Mr. Bylund. You should at least disclose that you are being paid to spread this fud. You are so far off the facts in this case that its sad someone actually pays you to write these lies.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 10:19 AM, TMFZahrim wrote:

    People, people. I understand that Rambus has a lot of community support, some of whom really enjoy the company's Kool-Aid. That's fine. If you believe that side of the story, Rambus becomes an underdog, unfairly trampled by ruthless giants and left with no choice but to defend itself with lawsuits and trade complaints.

    But then there's the other side of the story, where Rambus leveraged its early (and real) innovation into outrageous misuse of the JEDEC standards process and then became a money-grabbing lawsuit machine with some R&D tacked on to keep up appearances.

    The truth probably lies somewhere in-between these extremes, but I'm leaning toward the second version. And I'm not alone, as even judges ruling in Rambus' favor under the current legal framework sometimes take exception to the company's practices. Example:

    "Comparing the slight possibility that Rambus may suffer an irreparable harm to the immediate and devastating harm that an injunction would deal to Hynix, the balance clearly weighs in Hynix's favor. Informing this balance is the court's firm conviction that Rambus's motive in seeking an injunction is not to prevent irreparable harm but either (a) to increase its leverage in negotiating an ongoing license with Hynix or (b) to punish Hynix out of spite for its decision to contest Rambus's infringement allegations and over a variety of other grievances involving the industry's rejection of RDRAM."

    -- United States District Judge Ronald Whyte, 2/23/2009

    By the way, Rambus enthusiasts; you'd have to do a lot worse than name-calling to top the reaction I got for pointing out another failed business model, two years before it went bankrupt as the canary in the subprime mortgage coal mine:

    Happy New Year, everyone!


  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 10:58 AM, smarmyanders wrote:

    Obviously a cartel toady, even if supposedly holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. His response to the valid criticisms of his "research" is to jump up and down and tout that he got a lot of replies correcting his work, so at least he's generating web traffic?

    We have another Motley Fool attention whore that posts regularly on the Apple Yahoo board, telling us for over a year why Apple was headed for a major correction while also touting his top rating in the Fool Caps rating system! We laugh him off that board.

    I see that they do mention NVDA as a Motley pick. Perhaps Anders can weigh in on the woman recently jailed for insider trading NVDA shares. She has connections to Stanford, Taiwan and NVDA. Who in NVDA management pops into your head as also being connected with those 3 things? NVDA - a company with declining market share that is counting on a jury believing their position that contracts don't mean what they say on the paper, they mean what Nvidia thinks they "imply" in order to ever be able to connect to Intel's latest X-86 chips again. Odds are against them finding a jury dumb enough to say that.

    And it appears that Anders may do research, but not understand what he finds. A judges reason for not issuing an injunction in the Federal Court system is supposedly a rejection of Rambus as a "failed business model" in Anders bizarro world. The ITC is where companies go to get injunctions, Anders, and they already approved one for Rambus that forced your beloved Nvidia into forward licensing Rambus patents. The ITC will issue another injunction against all those many companies that Rambus recently filed against there that have also been misappropriating their IP for years. And guess what. Nvidia is named again in the latest Rambus ITC action!

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 11:32 AM, printanything wrote:

    Failed business model? I'm sure Qualcomm would love to hear they are headed for the government cheese line. Oh, and by the way, RDRAM wasn't rejected, it was killed by a group of memeory manufacturers that stole Rambus IP and later fixed prices on the IP they stole. RDRAM was a superior technology just as XDR-RAM is today.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 11:36 AM, printanything wrote:

    Thanks to Mr. Bylund for his narrow-minded insight and to all other sheep like him!!!

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 11:39 AM, smarmyanders wrote:

    Doesn't TMF have any quality control process on their "writers"? Lucky I didn't invest in that non-lethal weapons company whose CEO was convicted of securities crimes even before Seth recommended buying into it, over and over and over. TMF has a disclosure policy, so they are "supposedly" not pumping their own positions. Then they just must be really poor researchers/analysts/witers.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 12:45 PM, JAlfredP wrote:

    Dear Anders,

    You have written a masterpiece of misinterpretation and misinformation. You dub Rambus a "monstrous business model", but you fail to mention where the Big Tech companies will go when they need IP breakthrough for interface clogs. If you'd done your homework you would understand that it's Rambus inventions which solved the memory bottleneck, and continue to advance the throughput at the interface. Why don't you investigate Rambus's XDR and XDR2, and try to pass those discoveries off as "patent trolling".

    You aver that "Rambus bases its business model on legal threats". Obviously, you don't know who sued who Judge Whyte's description of a coordinated effort to litigate Rambus to death. Who's doing the threatening?

    What is Rambus to do? Give away the R&D that other companies were unable or unwilling to do?

    You have penned a pathetic diatribe that was not fact checked, and if you have an ounce of honesty you will read up on the real travestry, ie.theft of Intellectual Property by those whom Rambus has been forced to sue.

    You claim to be standing on a soapbox, I would say it's more like a shameless shill-box. Your blatant spin job for the poor little giants of the techworld is sickeningly uninformed and biased. The reason the "accused don't even try very hard to dispute the infringement itself" is because they don't have a legal leg to stand on. Instead of excoriating Rambus for finally (after years of insufferable theft of their properties) fighting for simple licenses for their innovative inventions, why don't you take the thieves to task for their arrogant expropriation of someone elses intellectual property?

    Don't bother to answer that because it's obvious that you are just one more harping critic who would rather spout false epithets like "patent trolling" at a truly creative company. You have no desire to learn the truth! You probably think the FTC commissioners were in the right when they ignored their own ALJ's epic explication of the cartel's rampant theft of Rambus inventions. If you really want to know the truth, read Judge Steven Mcguire's no-spin, fact based findings of the coordinated corrupt heist perpetrated against Rambus by the likes of Samsung, Hynix, and Micron.

    What's broken here is the law. What's broken is the judicial system that allows filthy rich companies to avoid punishment for their crimes by gaming the courts with high-priced lawyers who delay, obfuscate, and twist the system for decades in order to avoid paying for what they have stolen. Rambus is the victim here. They have been forced to hold the feet of the thieves to the fire. You are another in a long train of FUDsters spewing falsehoods and accusations that cannot be substantiated by fact.

    This is what we have come to expect from the Motley Fool, superficial hitjobs trumped up by smear-mongers parading as journalists. I urge you and those of your ilk to attend the Price-fixing trial being prepared against Micron and Hynix in a Northern Califonia court for next year, if the crooks don't settle first. There you will be faced with thousands of documents showing who the real culprits are in this story. But, even then when faced with proven Rambus innocence, I imagine you will continue with these biased screeds spun from the wallets of the poor little giants of the techworld.


  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 1:46 PM, FromToasty wrote:

    From Toasty54


    You gloss over the fact that these companies have been found to infringe- “In a joint comment to the ITC, the accused don't even try very hard to dispute the infringement itself”..might this be because they are massively guilty of said infringement and have already lost those rulings in court?

    You seem to accept the “We stole so much you can’t punish us now” argument rather easily. You take it one step further suggesting that if you are rich you should be able to get away with theft on a grand scale “I can't imagine the commission wanting to do that to such a distinguished, deep-pocketed, and lobby-happy bunch of true-blue American businesses.” So by your argument they should be allowed to steal because they stole a lot and because they pay off congressmen through lobbyists? And did you really mean “bleeding edge” or was that a Freudian slip because the Cartel- made up of many foreign companies as well as American ones, have been bleeding Rambus dry with their theft?

    This is strange to me because latter you seem to sneer at Rambus, a for profit company, having the gall of trying to make a profit off their inventions “Rambus will probably get a settlement or two out of this action when all is said and done, along with a handful of license agreements that are nothing but profit margin for the company. Well-played under the prevailing rulebook, I suppose.” How dare rambus try to get paid for their inventions? So am I to assume that you do all your writing for the common good and accept no payment for it?

    You make an apples to pandas comparison between Rambus a company attacked by convicted anti trust felons and Panl’s press releases and seem to want us to draw the conclusion that rambus isn’t a worthy company because they have had to divert much of their time & cash away from enhancing their inventions and use it to fight and inform shareholders of the progress in this fight? If they weren’t updating shareholders of their progress you could write a great rambus refuses to divulge their legal strategies piece couldn’t you?

    But mostly you show your ignorance of the facts, the lack of impartiality and a lack of respect for the knowledge of your audience. I fear for anyone who reads your work and makes investment decisions based on them. Please look up what the forewoman of the jury said about Mike Sadler’s testimony and the conclusion her jury came to about his personality you will know how I feel about your article and you.

    Ps- I am considering changing the title of this article and 17 words in it and selling it to as many business publications as I can. I assume from your arguments that little things like Intellectual Property rights to hackneyed misinformed articles don’t deserve to be protected by our broken, expensive and glacially slow court systems, and since I am rich and powerful and have a mob connected pinky ring wearing lawyer as a brother in law and that it would hurt all the well meaning publications that paid me for it, you won’t mind or try to protect your rights. The only thing I see stopping me, is my own outdated sense of what is morally right and fair.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 2:49 PM, JAlfredP wrote:

    Here you go again Anders:

    " But then there's the other side of the story, where Rambus leveraged its early (and real) innovation into outrageous misuse of the JEDEC standards process and then became a money-grabbing lawsuit machine with some R&D tacked on to keep up appearances."

    Have you no desire to really know the truth? Of course not, because you are still whistling the disproved and disabused lies and innuendos which wafted into the noses of the gullible political commissioners at the FTC. But, Anders, those mendacious stories about Rambus misusing JEDEC have been disproven by Judge McGuire, and Judge Whyte, and anybody else willing to look at the facts rather than swallow the propaganda. Did you get a chance yet to read up on XDR and XDR2? No? I didn't think you would bother with that "R&D tacked on to keep up appearances".

    Rambus twice attempted, as you should know, to present at JEDEC, but were denied. Once Rambus left JEDEC it is documented that JEDEC actually knowingly adopted Rambus DRAM IP into their standard. They didn't even bother to try to work around the Rambus inventions! Let's address just for a moment your most spectacularly audacious and ridiculous use of a quote from Judge Ronald Whyte:

    "Comparing the slight possibility that Rambus may suffer an irreparable harm to the immediate and devastating harm that an injunction would deal to Hynix, the balance clearly weighs in Hynix's favor. Informing this balance is the court's firm conviction that Rambus's motive in seeking an injunction is not to prevent irreparable harm but either (a) to increase its leverage in negotiating an ongoing license with Hynix or (b) to punish Hynix out of spite for its decision to contest Rambus's infringement allegations and over a variety of other grievances involving the industry's rejection of RDRAM."

    I'm sorry Anders, I can't remember where that quote came from. Was it when Judge Whyte required Hynix to take a forward going license? Could it have been when the jury unanimously ruled against Hynix, after an hour or two of "deliberation"? Oh, perhaps it was when Judge Whyte ruled for Rambus on all conduct issues in the consolidated trial against Hynix. I'll bet it was in that document that Judge Whyte wrote requiring Hynix to pay back damages for infringement of Rambus IP in the amount of $500,000,000. Yeah, that's the ticket! Good research there Anders. Sometimes that forest is just too hard to see with all those trees in front of it.

    Go try some more of that criminal cartel Koolaid.


  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 3:44 PM, altosf wrote:

    Anders: Good article and has obviously sparked a lot of heated debate. I would like to see more information from you on the difference in business models between RMBS and PANL. It seems to me that the business models are essentially the same - both companies invent and license technologies. I don't think you can differentiate between them based on what they do or say in their conference calls. So what is the real difference and why should you promote one as a model and refute the other? There's no doubt that RMBS had been embroiled in much more high-profile litigation that PANL. That's because certain companies don't want to pay for RMBS licenses (rightly or wrongly) and have used the legal process to delay resolution. Others have seen that the delay process works and have not taken licenses. That, in turn, has provoked RMBS into more litigation. But that's not an indictment of this type of business model. That's an indictment of a company's reaction when they don't get paid for use of their property. Should they litigate (and become monstrous, as you say) or should they just give up, go home and open a doughnut shop. You are right that the intellectual property framework is broken. Any system which allows multiple lawsuits on multiple fronts, involves several government agencies, and takes over a decade to resolve, is badly broken. Monstrous, even.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 6:19 PM, Rambusince99 wrote:

    Your position relies entirely on the presumption that Rambus engaged in malconduct while at Jedec. If that is true, then your article is fair and well stated. If it is not true, then your argments fall flat.

    The perspective from us in the Rambus camp is that Rambus deceived no one while at Jedec. The judge and jury in Hynix v. Rambus unanimously agree.

    Consider also that:

    1. All the Jedec attendees knew exactly who Rambus was, and what technology it had. How do we know that? Because there are signed NDA's with them, pre-dating Rambus' membership in Jedec. Naive to think that little Rambus truly deceived all of these Fortune 500, multi-national corporations.

    2. Rambus did not vote on any standards while a member of Jedec, therefor exerting zero influence on standard setting.

    3. The rules as to disclosure of IP were vague at best, as mentioned by both Judge Whyte and Judge McGuire. To suggest that Rambus was somehow the only one not disclosing its IP at Jedec is to ignore the facts. IBM's representative said flat out that he could not and would not disclose all of the IP IBM had in the works.

    4. And here is the real kicker. Rambus COULD NOT disclose its IP since the patents were pending and as yet unissued, meaning that disclosure in a public forum like Jedec would cause Rambus' IP to become public domain - i.e the patents would be unenforceable even before they were issued. The CAFC ridiculed the FTC on this point, saying "for Rambus to have done what you say they should have done, they would have had to have given up their IP."

    So with all of that said, please explain your position that Rambus engaged in nefarious conduct at Jedec, and is therefor not entitled to patent protection. Your position is not supported by the legal system, and seems to draw heavily on the arguments of the MM cartel, which have now been debunked.

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2010, at 6:55 PM, NolAloha wrote:

    Recently Siemans was rudely awakened to the theft of technology used in the High Speed Rail they installed in China.

    One of the greatest threats we now face is the loss of Intellectual Property to cultures that either do not believe in them or who ignore them in order to return greater profits. We have all seen the concern expressed when a company like Boeing transfers aircraft manufacturing technology to Chinese Companies, companies that are at least in part owned by agents of the Chinese government.

    Unless we vigorously defend, at all levels of business and government, the Intellectual Property rights of our Engineers and Scientists, We face massive theft. theft that even now runs into the hundreds of Billions of dollars in lost sales per year.

    Mr Bylund, you do all of us a disservice if you support looser IP standards in this or any similar situation.

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2011, at 11:32 AM, JoeCocomo wrote:

    You have performed your duty and now can be assured you still have a job...too bad your lies are sooooo obvious and reek of unAmerican bought and paid for comments...

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2011, at 11:45 AM, art2248 wrote:

    I too have owned Rambus for many years and won't restate the many good and truthful comments already submitted. On the other hand, another point not mentioned goes to THE FOOL for allowing the publication of an article so devoid of fact that it verges on the edge of incompetency. As the New Year begins I am rethinking my subscription for FOOL publications.

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2011, at 12:35 PM, pk22901 wrote:

    Anders is so far off on this article. (See above comments and read the judgments referred to in them.)

    Also, we have to ask why the FTC, in a - historic first -, dismissed all concerns vis a vis Rambus WITHOUT a face saving trivial 'settlement' document?

    Will someone working for The Motley Fool write a responsive researched article to this reprehensible Anders fantasy?

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2011, at 5:42 PM, SirJustus wrote:

    Calling companies whose intellectual property rights have been infringed and the lawyers that represent them "Patent Trolls" makes a nice alliterative headline. But name-calling doesn't help resolve the real problems that exist in patent litigation today. It also conceals the truly dangerous claim Craig Tyler's article advances: that ownership of intellectual property — the coin of the realm in our new information society — should be restricted only to major corporations. At bottom, a patent case is simply a trespass case — the only real issue is whether the defendant is on the property without permission (infringement), and the only real defense is that the owner doesn't actually own the property (invalidity). It has never been a defense that the owner doesn't live on the land or isn't the right sort of person to own the land in the first place. The article's assertion is tantamount to claiming that, unless a landowner is a real estate company, it has no right to object if someone builds an office building on its land without permission and keeps the rent. But limiting the enforcement of property rights based on the status or character of the holder of the rights is not just alien to property law — it is alien to free enterprise and a free society. Intellectual property is assignable and anyone who purchases it can enforce it. In addition to the fact that giving property owners enforcement rights has been a quaint characteristic of property law for some time now, those protections reward innovation, investment and the attendant risk-taking that free enterprise requires. That it also rewards entrepreneurial litigation is hardly something corporations ought to complain about — they do exactly the same thing to compete successfully in the marketplace. And with all due respect to alternative dispute resolution, courts and lawsuits are a terrific way to resolve disputes over ownership of property rights. Resorting to the courts isn't limited to plaintiffs: Major corporations file patent litigation suits against each other and have been known to view their patent portfolios as assets whose value can be enhanced by aggressive prosecution. In short, plaintiffs in patent litigation are hardly pirates — they are simply investors who bought an asset and seek a return on their money. In the information age the purchase of patents simply reflects the highly socially desirable migration of investment away from tangible or real property toward intellectual property. Nations that want to compete in the information age should refuse to devalue intellectual property by allowing competitors to infringe it with impunity. Enforcing property rights is a hallmark of an advanced and prosperous society. The absence of meaningful protection for these rights, far from being a benefit, is in fact a significant detriment for commercial activity, as nations such as China and Russia are learning. While no one likes being a defendant, certainly few would agree that the ability to infringe on intellectual property rights is a good thing for our society.

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2011, at 9:33 PM, KW1964 wrote:

    Evryone agrees here that IP must be protected to the fullest extent of the law. In the RMBS case, there are many claims that are not clear cut. IBM, NVDA, TXN, and many others hold critical patents in memory tech as well. The issues here are really about validity. Some of the posters here may be long-term investers in RMBS, I almost became one. IF RMBS has THE critical patent in RAM synch tech, RMBS would be a $100B company today.

    Regarding IP issues in China, this is to get crazy. There have been literally 100s of billion of US dollars in IP that were transferred to China without proper recognition nor adequate compensation, including high-speed rail, automobile, and airspace tech. The US side did not want to lose market share and gave in. The end result is the governemnt owned tech companies in China digested all IP and claim ownership of all IPs with their new prodcuts. They are doing this in grand scale. It is a very difficult situation for US and western companies because the super-sized companies are all government owned.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2011, at 11:07 AM, matt06 wrote:

    Obviously you have never heard of Data Treasuries. Suggest you check them out. They are nothing but a legal entity in nowheres ville Texas that owns patents on image data transmitions. They have forced EVERY MAJOR NA BANK to sign an agreement with them and pay a royalty per image transmission. Rambus is fully within their rights and should be compensated.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2011, at 1:25 PM, russfischer1013 wrote:

    Wow, everyone at Rambus must have written a response to your article.

    Rambus is clearly wrong. I've got 35 years in the business and remember when evryone who was anyone was really pissed at the thievery on the part of Rambus by sliding a patent through on information that was stolen from the JEDEC organization.

    When Micron wins their lawsuit, Rambus should go away forever. Thet decision should be announced soon. I hope Micron doesn't settle.

    Patent trolls like Rambus and Tessera should be crushed.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2011, at 2:15 PM, webserver227 wrote:

    This is the exact problem facing rape victims. The judge helps the Rapists instead. In many cases, the victim should never have wore shorts and make itself a target. Same thing for Rambus, rambus should never have joined Jedec the standard. Hey, Rambus was trapped to join this disorganization. So, it is OK to steal inventions? So, it is OK for China to steal all inventions for free also? Anyway, our legal court system is a Joke and a big joke. The lawyers are laughing so are the Judges because these judges were retired lawyers. The longer the cases clinging in court makes their pay longer for decades as they charge by the hour.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2011, at 5:11 PM, quakeguard wrote:

    Anders has proved that he relly is a FOOL

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2011, at 12:07 PM, wamarino wrote:

    of course, if Byland knew anything about the companies about which he writes, he wouldn't have written this article while simultaneously promoting Interdigital, which has the exact same business model. This is just more drival from a "journalist" who pretends to know what he's talking about.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 12:46 AM, Scunnerous wrote:

    So now Mr. Byland knows what it's like to be gang-banged by RMBS shareholders and, I'd wager, a couple of RMBS principals. The ignorance of the RMBS fanbois here is mind-boggling... in that they invested in a company without studying the details and are frustrated by the lack of pay-off.,, and also that they seem to know nothing about the technology being claimed.

    Yes, the system is broken and revisions are needed to counter the proliferation of NPEs we see today. One can only hope that this attempted hold-up of an entire industry will be a catalyst towards fixing things. Shedding the parasitic legal eagles is going to be the toughest part.

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