Just Along for the Ride

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By stkhawk
August 7, 2002

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The more I read the FTC allegations in regards to DDR, the more it reminds me of the story about the guy who owns a car and a couple of colleagues ask him for a ride down to the convenience store to get some things. While the owner sits in his car out in front of the convenience store, the colleagues suddenly come running out with a bag full of money and jump in the car yelling STEP ON IT!.

You really have to wonder if the FTC fully understands what their colleagues have gotten them into with their attempts to morph the Jedec disclosure duty to also cover DDR and DDR2. It is simply amazing to read the FTC complaint and see the disclosure duty morph from SDRAM while Rambus was a member of Jedec to also covering DDR and DDR2 after Rambus was long gone. As rbnelson accurately points out, by the end of the document the FTC is referring to the disclosure duty to cover Jedec's wide-bus SDRAM "standards" (plural), not just the SDRAM standard.

By the time the FTC allegation gets around to complaining about Rambus not including the '327 patent in their withdrawal letter, they have already morphed the disclosure duty into this broader "standards" language. What I find interesting about the '327 patent, is that it obviously does not cover the SDRAM standard because it deals with dual clocking. Consequently, it now becomes clear why Team DDR needs this broader "standards" disclosure language in order for this alleged impropriety to have any perceived significance.

I also find it interesting that the FTC down plays the fact that Rambus warned of other potential patent applications in their withdrawal letter. In effect, Rambus was saying enough of this confiscating BS, we are out of here and Jedec is on notice! At least Rambus put it in writing, as opposed to Jedec's ever changing verbal disclosure duty.

"To the extent that anyone is interested in the patents of Rambus, I have enclosed a list of Rambus U.S. and foreign patents. Rambus has also applied for a number of additional patents in order to protect Rambus technology."

How much clearer can you make it than that? I guess you write this;

"Recently at JEDEC meetings the subject of Rambus patents has been raised. Rambus plans to continue to license its proprietary technology on terms that are consistent with the business plan of Rambus, and those terms may not be consistent with the terms set by standards bodies, including Jedec. A number of major companies are already licensees of Rambus technology. We trust that you will understand that Rambus reserves all rights regarding its intellectual property."

The real catch-22 for team DDR in complaining about Rambus not disclosing the '327 patent in their withdrawal letter, is that the '327 patent contains the same detailed description as the disclosed '703 patent and the WIPO patent application because it all originates from the '898 application. Therefore, someone from Jedec/Team DDR needs to explain why when reading the '703 and WIPO detailed description, that it obviously only relates to RDRAM, but when reading the '327 patent description, it suddenly needed to be disclosed to Jedec because it obviously relates to the SDRAM "standards"? This is an obvious gapping hole in Team DDR's story.

So I guess the real question is, what will the FTC do now that Team DDR has jumped into their car and yelled STEP ON IT! Will the Administrative law judge step on the gas, or will this morphing of the disclosure duty be exposed for what it is? In the appeal hearing, Judge Rader asked Ken Starr why most of the industry had acquiesced? In my opinion, most of the industry acquiesced because they did not want to be anywhere near that convenience store or the getaway car.

Just my opinion, decide for yourself.

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