Can Rambus Win on Appeal?

If at first you don't succeed, there's always the appeals process.

On that note, computer memory technologist Rambus (Nasdaq: RMBS  ) is keeping an 8-year-old lawsuit alive. The company alleged that Hynix and Micron Technology (Nasdaq: MU  ) colluded to destroy Rambus' memory technology by way of dumping prices on the competing DRAM standard. Last November, a jury finally delivered a verdict of "not guilty," noting that Rambus failed to prove these allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Shares plunged as much as 78% on the news and have trended lower ever since.

But the door was always open to file an appeal, and that's exactly what Rambus is doing now. And why not? The jury was hung forever and the final verdict was a pretty minimal 9-3 majority. Get in the ring to take another swing, and who knows what might happen? If Rambus wins, Micron and Hynix could be on the hook for as much as $13 billion in fines and damages. It's a high-stakes game of courtroom poker.

The company is keeping a stiff upper lip for now. "We believe that mistakes made during the trial require reversal of the judgment," a Rambus spokesperson told Bloomberg. But whatever happens in this round of appeals, which still seems tied to the California Supreme Court, the case could wind up in federal appeals all the way up to the SCOTUS. With this much money on the line, that wouldn't surprise me at all.

Investors on both sides of the argument are shrugging the appeal off. Today, Micron shares are beating the overall market by a modest margin while Rambus is falling slowly. Nobody expects a miraculous (or disastrous, if you're a Micron shareholder) sea change here.

To follow this drama as it unfolds, simply click here to add Rambus and Micron to your Foolish watchlist. Micron has beaten the market in 2012 while Rambus swooned. Micron's 23% climb is impressive, but Foolish analysts have found an even more promising stock to put in your portfolio right now. Learn all about The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012 in a special report -- free for a limited time.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Micron but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. Check out Anders' holdings and a bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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