EU accuses Rambus of 'patent ambush'

European Union regulators have charged Rambus with antitrust abuse, alleging the memory chip designer demanded 'unreasonable' royalties for its patents that were fraudulently set as industry standards, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the EU's preliminary charges come weeks after the US Federal Trade Commission ruled the company deceived a standards-setting committee by failing to disclose that its patented technology would be needed to comply with the standard.

As a result, every manufacturer that wanted to make synchronous dynamic access memory chips had to negotiate a license with Rambus, the report said.

The Associated Press report said both EU and US antitrust officials allege that this allowed Rambus gain an illegal monopoly in the 1990s for DRAM chips used in personal computers, servers, printers, personal digital assistants and other electronics.

The FTC order stops Rambus from collecting royalties on US patents and foreign ones relating to goods imported into or from the US, the report said.
But the EU's executive arm said it had to act because the US decision would not grant relief to companies in Europe.

Rambus, which designs and licenses technology but doesn't make chips, has nine weeks to respond to the European Commission's statement of objections and can seek an oral hearing before the EU comes to a final decision.