Rambus v. NVIDIA, An Updated Scorecard

Scott Daniels and Yoshiya Nakamura | January 28, 2010

RAMBUS 対 NVIDIAの戦況報告

In our post dated December 1, 2009, we reported on the struggle between Rambus and NVIDIA at the ITC and in reexaminations at the PTO. Since then, Rambus has won a major victory at the ITC – Administrative Law Judge Essex has ruled that the ‘353, ‘405 and ‘109 patents are valid and infringed.1
Rambus, however, has not fared well in the reexaminations, as can be seen from the following chart.

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 – Prosecution has been Closed
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 – Prosecution has been Closed
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, and are not Anticipated or Obvious Claims 1-25 Rejected – Prosecution has been Closed
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, but also Anticipated and Obvious Claims 7, 13 & 21-22 Rejected, Patentee has Traversed the Rejection is Awaiting further Action

The PTO has issued an Action Closing Prosecution (ACP) for each of Rambus’ ‘353, ‘405 and ‘109 patents, upheld at the ITC. An ACP limits the patentee’s right to amend its claims and to present new arguments; an ACP is thus analogous to a final rejection in original prosecution.

In one passage of the ACPs, the PTO refers to Judge Essex’s broad construction of a key claim limitation as support for its own broad construction of that limitation. This reference by the PTO to the ITC shows that reexamination and concurrent litigation are not isolated from each other – one may have a significant effect on the other.

In the reexaminations for the ‘016 and ‘998 patents, the patentee continues to wait for a response from the PTO to the patentee’s traversal of the pending prior art rejections. The PTO has merged the ‘016 and ‘998 reexaminations with two inter partes reexaminations (also filed by NVIDIA) against those patents. This merger, which was requested by NVIDIA, permits it to play an even more effective role in the PTO proceedings.

As we stated in the previous post, the ITC is not bound by the PTO’s rejections. Still, it is questionable whether the ITC would exclude products from importation into the United States, on the basis of patent claims that have been found by the PTO to be invalid.

The ITC has a target date of May 24, 2010, for concluding its investigation.

1 The ‘016 and ‘998 patent claims were found to be infringed, but anticipated and obvious.

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