Claims of Two Rambus Memory Device Patents Rejected by PTO Board of Appeals

Scott Daniels | April 25, 2012

The Patent Office Board of Appeals dealt Rambus a major setback yesterday by affirming the anticipation rejection of the two independent claims in reexamination of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,266,285 and 6,314,051, two of the so-called “Farmwald Patents” that have been the subject of an ITC investigation and several District Court infringement actions. The Board also reversed the decision of the examiner not to reject two other clams in each of the ‘285 and ‘051 patents, thereby entering a new grounds for rejection of those claims. The patents now go back to the reexamination examiner for consideration of these new grounds for rejection. The reexamination of each patent was based on two separate reexamination requests, one filed by Samsung, one by Micron, which were then merged by the PTO.

For both the ‘285 and ‘051 memory device patents, the Board found that all three claims in reexamination were anticipated by the Bennett patent which “discloses a single chip embodiment having the ability to delay the timing processing certain signals.” The Board relied upon a detailed reading of the Bennett reference and additionally argued that Rambus’ attempts to distinguish Bennett contradicted “other arguments made elsewhere here [sic] and in numerous related proceedings.”

The reexaminations raised an interesting merger issue: specifically Rambus’ argument that Micron lacked standing to participate in the appeal because it had been Samsung, not Micron, that had previously asserted the actual and proposed rejections that were the subject of the appeals. Since Samsung was no longer participating in the reexamination, Rambus asserted, the “Samsung” issues would not be raised.  The Board readily dismissed Rambus’ argument, pointing out the statutory right of a requester to appeal “any final decision favorable to patentability.” 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). The Board also cited a recent decision in 95/000,183-95/001,112, as well as its Rule 41.77(b) power to enter new grounds for rejection.

The ‘285 and ‘051 patents were once the subject of a “study” by Article One Partners, the latter offering $50,000 for prior art that would invalidate the patents.

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