Monday, June 09, 2008

School: Antitrust villain or antitrust hero?

One good example of how facts can be skewed in a court case to paint radically different pictures can be found in the legal wranglings of Rambus, Inc., a company specializing in semiconductor memory. You see, the FTC accused Rambus of concealing its patents on computer memory technology from a standards consortium in order in order to get lucrative licensing deals with manufacturers, who would be "locked in" or "ambushed" by the use of patented technology in an industry-wide standard.

That's the FTC line - Rambus sounds like a deceptive, anticompetitive company. Surprisingly, there is quite a bit of evidence of a different reality here, with Rambus as the victim of various conspiracies from other memory developers who attempted to bury the company. In fact, some of Rambus' competitors have plead guilty to price-fixing and have paid multimillion dollar fines.

It's an interesting duality - sword and shield, or perhaps villain and victim.


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