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Rambus names Samsung in antitrust lawsuit

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Rambus has added Samsung Electronics to its antitrust lawsuit against most of the DRAM industry, another development in the souring of relations between the two former partners.

Rambus' antitrust lawsuit, filed last May against Infineon Technologies, Hynix Semiconductor, Micron Technology and Siemens, alleges that those companies conspired about five years ago to keep the RDRAM (Rambus dynamic RAM) design from competing with their own SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) chips by underproducing the RDRAM chips and creating an undersupply that would keep prices high.

Infineon and Hynix have already pleaded guilty to corporate price-fixing charges as part of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Executives from Infineon and Micron have also entered guilty pleas and spent time in prison.

Rambus has since removed Infineon and Siemens from the antitrust case as part of a broader settlement of legal disputes between those companies. But Samsung, the world's largest DRAM manufacturer, has now been lumped in with the rest of the accused companies, Rambus said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

The antitrust case is a separate legal battle from the long-running dispute over whether companies that make SDRAM chips are infringing upon patents held by Rambus. When the first patent infringement lawsuits were filed by Rambus in 2000, Infineon, Hynix, and Micron challenged the validity of Rambus' patents. But Samsung chose instead to sign a license to those patents, a huge boost for Rambus at the time.

The dispute is still ongoing between Rambus, Hynix and Micron. Rambus and Infineon agreed earlier this year to settle all outstanding litigation between the two companies, including the antitrust lawsuit, as part of a licensing agreement.

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