Rambus v. NVIDIA, An Updated Scorecard

Scott Daniels | December 1, 2009

In the old days of baseball, before scoreboards the size of a city block, it was said that you “need a scorecard to keep track of the players.”

That is certainly true of the current ITC investigation in which Rambus originally accused NVIDIA, as well as 16 downstream customers, of infringing nine patents related to graphics card, motherboard and computer memory controllers. After receiving adverse Office Actions from the PTO in reexaminations of several of those patents, Rambus dropped four from the ITC case.

As can be seen from the following chart, Rambus’ chances of prevailing on the remaining five patents may be affected by the PTO’s reexaminations.

Rambus Patent No. Rambus Patent Title Position Taken by

ITC Staff Attorney

Status of Claims

in Reexamination

U.S. Patent 6,591,353 “Protocol for Communication with Dynamic Memory” Claims 11-13 are Infringed, and are not Anticipated or Obvious Claims 1-16 Rejected (Non-Final) – Patentee Seeks Extension to 1-14-10 to Answer
U.S. Patent 6,470,405 “Protocol for Communication with Dynamic Memory” Claims 11-13, 15 & 18 are Infringed, and are not Anticipated or Obvious Claims 1-13, 15-22 & 24-37 Rejected – Patentee Must Appeal to CAFC
U.S. Patent 7,287,109 “Method of Controlling a Memory Device having a Memory Core” Claims 1-2, 4-5, 12-13, 20-21 & 24 are Infringed, Claims 1-2, 4-5, 12-13, 20-21 & 24 are Anticipated, and but not Obvious Claims 1-25 Rejected – Patentee Must Appeal to CAFC
U.S. Patent 7, 210,016 “Method, System and Memory Controller Utilizing Adjustable Write Data Delay Settings” Claims 7, 13 & 21-22 are Infringed, but also Anticipated and Obvious Claims 7, 13 & 21-22 Rejected, Patentee has Traversed the Rejection is Awaiting further Action
U.S. Patent 7, 177,998 “Method, System and Memory Controller Utilizing Adjustable Read Data Delay Settings” Claims 7, 13 & 21-22 are Infringed, Claim 1 is Anticipated, and Claims 7, 13 & 21-22 are Obvious Claims 7, 13 & 21-22 Rejected, Patentee has Traversed the Rejection is Awaiting further Action

For three of the Rambus patents, the ITC’s Staff Attorney has recommended that Judge Essex rule that the asserted claims are invalid as anticipated by or obvious over the prior art. The ALJ, of course, is in no way bound by such recommendations, but they still may have a persuasive impact on his conclusions.

For the other Rambus patents, the ‘353 and ‘405 patents, the PTO has issued either a non-final rejection or a final rejection of all the claims asserted by Rambus. Though the ITC is not be bound by the PTO’s rejections, one wonders whether the Commissioners will be inclined to exclude products from importation into the United States, on the basis of patent claims that have been found by the PTO to be invalid

A trial was held before Judge Essex in October. He must complete his initial decision by January 22, 2010, and the Commission has a target date of May 24, 2010 for concluding its investigation.

There is a parallel case pending before Judge Susan Ilston in the Northern District of California, in which Rambus has sued NVIDIA for infringement of 17 patents. Judge Ilston denied a motion to stay earlier this year that case pending completion of the ITC investigation, but she has permitted limited discovery to proceed.

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