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The Almighty Buck

NEC Signs Rambus Royalty Agreement 74

Zarquon writes: "NEC has agreed to pay licensing fees and royalties to Rambus for production of SDRAM, according to this TechWeb article. They're the fourth company to give in to Rambus; Hitachi, Toshiba, and Oki have already been signed to similar agreements. If you're unfamiliar with the Rambus patent fiasco, LostCircuits has a good synopsis of the situation." Ah, yes -- beat them in the courtroom, not the marketplace.
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NEC Signs Rambus Royalty Agreement

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  • by dieman ( 4814 ) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @06:14AM (#780030) Homepage
    Nononono. Your thinking Trademark Law.
  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @06:14AM (#780031) Homepage
    Microsoft:
    * used anti-competitive licensing terms
    * disallowed customers from using other products
    * forced customers to accept terms that were harmful to them
    * broke previous rulings regulating their behaviour

    Rambus:
    * patented a bunch of ideas that are generally regarded as not being particularly original
    * demanded license fees from RAM manufacturers
    * got what they asked for
    * will need to defend the validity of their patents in court against Micron's claims
    * may ultimately lose ownership of the patents and have to give the money back

    The point is that Rambus hasn't broken any laws, while Microsoft has. One has to approve of lawbreakers ending up in court.

    Sure, Hemos is still out to lunch: Rambus isn't using the courts at all to get what they want. Micron is. And because the case hasn't even made it to the courtroom, you can't say Rambus is winning in the courtroom.

    Different beasts, Microsoft and Rambus. One has a viable product, thumped the marketplace, and engaged in anticompetitive practices. The other has no viable product, got thumped in the marketplace, and is engaged in dubious patent licensing.

    With any luck, both will receive a comeuppance.

    --
  • Erm, but RAMBUS's patents (the ones in question) are INVALID.

    They are patents which RAMBUS tried to claim based on JOINT work carried out by JEDEC.

    RAMBUS are breaking the rules and then wonder why some companies (hello Micron!) have the guts to stand up to them and their bullying ways.
  • It's pretty clear that microsoft has broken certain laws

    It's also pretty clear that NEC (and others) have broken certain laws by infringing on the rambus patents. NEC has come to terms with rambus instead of letting the courts handle this.

  • We all know it certainly had nothing to do with the fact that Netscape's browser did indeed sucketh hard, right?

    Compared to the other browsers at the time? You must be kidding, right?

    Even MS admits that their own browsers didn't hold a candle to Netscape until version 4+. Nobody chose IE3 over NN3 when given a choice. I'm still amazed when I load an NT4 system (which has IE3 by default) just how bad that browser was.

    Saying that 4 years after the fact MS managed to ship a superior browser (IE5) is hardly a ringing endorsement of their technology, considering by that point their only competitor had been devalued so much that they had to sell themselves to stay in business.

    Netscape knew that their dreck would never win in the marketplace, so they sued.

    I don't recall NS ever suing MS.

    I'm an investigator. I followed a trail there.
    Q.Tell me what the trail was.
  • Am I wrong on these? It seems that only Japanese manufacturers settled with Rambus.

    Does it indicate that even the conflicts can be solven in a US courtroom, it's less costful for Japanese players to settle instead?

    I'm going to see a nasty battle with Rambus.
  • I'm extremely happy Rambus isn't pursuing the SDRAM market (and they don't sound like they will, but maybe they'll change their tune) and instead only the DDRDRAM market. At least you CAN still buy a decent computer cheaply, and they're apparently not even making the DDRDRAM licensing rates terribly ridiculous, or those companies wouldn't be settling so easily.

    Ah, but they are going after SDRAM, with intent to shut down the entire market. Using their (possibly invalid) patents, they are jacking up the price of SDRAM so that RDRAM becomes cheaper and the industry moves to RDRAM. The companies that are settling are doing so based on their past use of SDRAM, not RDRAM. RAMBUS' intent is to destroy the SDRAM market by force of patent, rather than conquering it by making RDRAM a better product.

    ...don't buy RDRAM, it's completely not worth it and ridiculously expensive.

    Sure it's expensive, but if RAMBUS gets its way, RDRAM will be the cheaper of the two. The article at Lost Circuits was an eye-opener for me; maybe you should read it?

  • RDRAM is actually faster for a very small subset of applications that demand memory bandwidth above all else. RDRAM is a little faster than PC133 in professional OpenGL apps. Tomshardware has been RAMBUS' most outspoken critic but even this benchmark [tomshardware.com] at his site shows it. A professional user (ie not a hobbyist) would disregard the results for PC133 on 440BX because it overclocks the chipset and AGP bus. This test didn't include the i815 chipset, but in other tests it has been shown to be slower than the 440BX at 133Mhz bus.

    Of course this means nothing to 99% of users because RDRAM is slower for just about every other application.

  • Microsoft has a monopoly in the COMMERCIAL DESKTOP MARKETPLACE - with Windows and Office, and can do pretty much as they please. This situation is stifling competition and development. As a result, many other Office suites and OSes are being released for FREE (aka StarOffice and BeOS PE). Because MS is entirely DOMINATING the desktop market - there isn't really much money to be made by other companies.

    Not very many people are earning a living by developing Linux, it's more like a hobby. So Linux isn't really in the same marketplace as Windows/Office.

    I think Linux, or other open and free OS/Office suites, will eventually prevail anyways. However, what's wrong with correcting the market-situation so that other commercial companies can compete on the same level as Microsoft? This has happened with AT&T and IBM before, and it will happen again when it's necessary.

    - Steeltoe
  • "rmbs is an intellectual property firm: this means they only do r&d. if they can't patent something or get a licence for it they're screwd"

    How such a company was allowed at the JEDEC meetings beats me.

    "have you seen the p4 benchmarks (sorry forgot the site). they show a p4 with rmbs to outperform anything that has been here."

    This is a ridiculous argument and test case. What does it prove that a P4 with RDRAM beats "anything that has been here"? I'm assuming you mean the PC-market, but wouldn't a comparative test between P4 RDRAM and SDRAM/DDRAM (with the best motherboards for each) be better?

    "you say rmbs is expensive? The prices have been coming down all this year and since the new partitioning of dies yield even bigger."

    You talk as if price reduction in the technology marketplace is something astonishing. This is old news. Only comparisons are worth something.

    "rmbs royalities are only about 3%. This means that the manufacturers got most of the money anyway. The problem is that the chip industry hasn't come up with anything very original on their own "

    Gee, they should be happy they get most of the money from their products? These companies came up with SDRAM didn't they? It's not as if the patent is very original either. At least it's a much cheaper, reliable and faster (relatively) memory-technology than RDRAM.

    "(yea, have you seen ddr work? no, because it doesn't and it takes another half year utnil it does. all these rmbs bashers claim that rdram is crap, overseeing that ddr doensn't work at all)."

    You're talking out of your ass. I have DDR-memory at home in my GeForce-card. It certainly works, and the tests shows it to be stupidly much faster than SDRAM for the same card (at high memory throughput). Now faced with SDRAM and RDRAM for my motherboard-memory, my choice is simple. SDRAM gives the most bang for the bucks. DDRAM will be comparable to RDRAM in every respect, yes, maybe even beat it, not only in price. You also seem to forget that you have to buy the most expensive RDRAM (P800) to get any good results with it.

    "Now they tried screwing rmbs and try to win in court."

    Rambus' business-model is totally way off. They expect their royalties for making what anyone in the business can make for themselves? It seems Rambus is only in for money and monopoly position, not to produce anything competitive and _simple_. Being sly and speculative shouldn't be endorsed by the law.

    - Steeltoe
  • Erm, but RAMBUS's patents (the ones in question) are INVALID.

    As far as the law and courtrooms are concerned, the patents are valid until they can be proven otherwise. Micron may very well get the patents overturned, but until they do, rambus has every right to defend them.

  • It's just amazing how many well-speaking persons are trying to state the obvious without any depth knowledge to offer on the issue. Especially when concerned with Law, some people seem to think it's an end to all discussion.

    "There seems to be a real issue with slashdot's perception of intellectual property right."

    "A real issue". Like, you don't agree with it? You talk as if your opinion really mattered because you follow the norm, and everyone should follow you.

    I guess many Slashdotters have a problem with IP when they receive cease-and-desist letters on something they have made that violates a patent or new "digital laws". I find it comforting that alot of people on here hasn't lost their common sense. However, this community is NOT homogenous.

    - Steeltoe
  • "Ah, yes -- beat them in the courtroom, not the marketplace."

    Of course! If your product performs inferior to other types in its class, just pressure them legally to only manufacture your product! This is really pathetic; now Rambus is the true weasel of the RAM market. And the only things stopping them are Intel's bending loyalty to Rambus (soon to break, I hope), the Athlon's performance with DDR, third party chipset makers planning DDR chipsets for the P3 and P4 (once again, I hope), and the opposition of us gamers and hackers.

    I say resist the ill wind of Rambus! But please, don't flame, use evidence!

  • It's incredible you don't get modded up one point for this. Oh well..

    This is exactly why I think Rambus' businessmodel will fail in the long term. Development is only truly inventive in a competitive market, whereas Rambus is trying to seize an Intellectual monopoly on all development of PC memory technology. People will eventually get fed up with this, and develop more healthier models of developing technology, without being strangled by artificial pricing and boneheaded solutions.

    - Steeltoe
  • The soon-to-be-released Quad Standard and DDR Quad-Standard technologies will provide for four to eight times as many contradictions in the same space. Industry analysts predict Multi-Standard Technology is clearly outpacing Logic Technology, and is set to control the market by Q3 2001.
  • ... hrmmm .. NEC has some sharp decison makers..

    Translation: Death nell for RamBus now official.
  • Well if you're going to point fingers at least get a handle instead of anonymous coward. It is tenuous to claim that JEDEC negates a company's rights to hundreds of their own patents. Rambus design RAM, and that's all, for them to give up rights on their I.P puts them out of business instantly. You're really claiming that's what they did?

    As I've already said, it's not about the patents in the press releases. When they roll the big guns into the negotiations it's game over, no counter infringement claims and a portfolio that would sink a battleship, that's the harsh reality here. This JEDEC thing is a smoke screen to cover the fact that Micron is buck naked. Their only defence is a blanket claim (and get this) that Rambus has no rights to their own inventions.
  • You're perception here is that I'm unsympathetic. I'm not, but the consistent Alice in Wonderland approach to the real world, (as opposed to the world of geek opinion) is beyond a joke.

    Contrarian views and real insight is ignored here and farcical inflammatory and misinformed nonsense rises to the surface.

    This is a forum about opinion important or not, my opinion provoked a response from you so in your little corner of the world my opinion seems to matter more than most. I'm not trying to influence the system, you are. I'm just pointing out that a lot of the crap posted here is plain wrong and offer an alternative view of what's happening in the real world as opposed to the wet dreams of /.ters.
  • Well, it's very comfortable and easy to have rational and normalized opinions. I'm really surprised not more people on Slashdot have them, but I guess many of them choose not to speak up. I suspect they deep down inside really don't care what is steering them, as long as it looks okay on the surface (On the higher level, feelings is what's making us tick. That's why people may suddenly change to the opposite once or twice in their lives. Nobody is truly rational.)

    Problems arise when a society accepts certain views as "escapable" and inherently in every context. It then loses the ability to be truly reflective and correct its course when its due time. So even though alot of "dirt" comes up to the surface in such forums as these, I believe it's necessary dirt that do have some truth to be extracted. It's only matter of willingness to do the job, with an open mind.

    Disclaimer: I'm not saying I know who you are and how you think. I'm saying this is the perception I get from the little information available from posts such as these. I'm not saying I'm right.

    - Steeltoe
  • I don't like what RAMBUS is doing, but the fact that so many companies are reaching settlements seems to indicate that they have some reasonably strong legal footing for these suits.

    Just a few reminders:

    • RamBUST memory is mostly oriented towards the PC marketplace (yeah, I do not forget game platforms, but they are a drop in the sea).
    • RamBUST=Intel. Intel=RamBUST. You want to have favourable terms from Intel you go RamBUST. The alternative is to use non-Intel chipsets and then you suddenly realise that you are stuffed on CPU deliveries and pricing.
    • Hitachi, Toshiba and Nec all produce PC equipment. Or have extensive long-term contracts deals with PC manufacturers.

    This is the situation. Fair and Square. You either go RamBUST or you lose your share of the PC market. By either selling unpopular non-branded non-Intel PCs or having to pay more for CPUs from Intel or not having them available.

  • by EMIce ( 30092 ) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @06:15AM (#780050) Homepage
    This is for all you posters who are coming in defense of Rambus. Please PLEASE read the @#! article before making generalized comments. And these articles are being modded up. Yeash.

    1. Rambus joined JEDEC, a consortium of companies devoted to sharing R&D work and forming industry standards to keep costs down for everyone

    2. Rambus files for patents after joining the JEDEC, without disclosing the fact. These patents go directly against the industry standards the JEDEC is trying to establish.

    3. Rambus is now using this information learned at meetings to "extend and prosecute pending applications to target the latest industry standards proposed in these meetings."

    Rambus, while doing nothing illegal, acted in a very misleading way. It sat at these JEDEC meetings, when in fact it had conflicting interests which are now being used to undermine the whole market and open standards.
  • Do you even know what's happening here?

    Microsoft went to court (rightfully) for anti-competitive practices.

    RAMBUS is attempting to cheat the system and bilk other manufacturers by using patents gleaned from JEDEC meetings.

    The only relation between the two is a courtroom, so go read the article, and post when you have a clue, Troll.
  • But RAMBUS wasn't granted a reasonable and valid patent. The things they'd patented had been used in SDRAM far before they filed their patent application. There's mounds of prior art, and these companies are folding because they see no advantage to fighting a legal battle.


    -RickHunter
  • The reason there is anti-trust legislation in the first place is that is next to impossible to beat a monopoly in the marketplace. Rambus does not have a monopoly,

    yet.

    --
  • Rambus and Microsoft are quite similar actually.
    I'm sure Slashdotters would still be againsty Microsoft even if they went to court against, let's say, Red Hat and tried legally stopping them instead of competing fairly. (especially if they went to court against red hat :)
    The point is, both M$ and Rambust have inferior products and instead of designing better products or trying to compete on the market (where they would lose), they bully others into buying their products. Which is why M$ got sued by the DOJ. If Rambus becomes the next M$, they'll probably get sued too.

    Although, if Rambust wins, they'll probably destroy the computer industry as it is today. If you don't believe me, check the prices for RDRAM. Here, 256 megs of RDRAM cost as much as a cheap PC (more than 1000$ and more than twice the price for PC133 RAM)
  • MS also made various deals with vendors saying "We'll charge you hella lots for Windows if you ship your product with Netscape, but if you don't you get a discount. Capiche?" And the vendors did, and Netscape did not ship, and IE did gain much marketshare. So sayeth the logs of history.
    ---
  • Even MS admits that their own browsers didn't hold a candle to Netscape until version 4+. Nobody chose IE3 over NN3 when given a choice. I'm still amazed when I load an NT4 system (which has IE3 by default) just how bad that browser was.

    I guess I'm "nobody," then. I've used nearly every final-release version of IE in the past five years (the first one was on the Plus! CD I got along with Win95 when it was released in August that year). I tried some early versions of Netscrape and didn't see anything special in them, especially after they started charging for it. Having never used Netscrape in a serious way, I don't think I was "deprived" of anything worthwhile early on.

    Even now, with all my computers at home running Linux instead of Win9x, I'm still running IE 5.5 (under Win98 under VMware). Unlike Netscrape, it won't lock up my computer, hose X, or do any of the other nasty things that Netscrape can do. It's also nice that, coming from a company that likes to "embrace and extend" the standards, it sticks more closely to the standards than Netscrape.

    Using IE also means that I'm not supporting AOL, which I view as the biggest evil of all (who here doesn't remember when the AOLers descended on Usenet like the four horsemen of the apocalypse?).

    _/_
    / v \
    (IIGS( Scott Alfter (remove Voyager's hull # to send mail)
    \_^_/

  • "but the fact that so many companies are reaching settlements seems to indicate that they have some reasonably strong legal footing for these suits" Actually, not one of these companies settled because of RAMBUS' "legal footing". They took one look at the cost of fighting the lawsuit in court, or settling and realized that it would be better to settle. It has also been presumed that to make settlement more attractive to these minor SDRAM players, RAMBUS offered small royalty fees. So, be careful when you say these "smart lawyers" are settling. It was probably the accountant who convinced these company to take that route.
  • lets beat them in the marketplace, not the courtroom. If you need to buy RAM, make sure its from Micron.

    -Spazimodo

    Fsck the millennium, we want it now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    From the previously posted story, it would appear that these companies may not need to worry about payin royalties to Rambus for too much longer.
  • Help us, Micron-Kenobi, you're our only hope!

    [Note to the unfamiliar, Micron filed suit against Rambus for anti competitive practices and invalid patents. Live by the sword, die by the sword...]

    -={(Astynax)}=-
  • Ah yes - beat them in the courtroom, not the marketplace.

    Gee Hemos, you guys don't seem to mind when it involves Microsoft. Thanks for shining a big ol' spotlight on that hypocrisy, though.


    Cheers,

  • ...Corporate america?

    Is this what we're coming to, even between
    companies? Petty squabbling about details
    and finding the easy way out.

    Oh wait. My fault. Capitalism. Damn.

    Pass the beer nuts, I guess.

  • by Proteus ( 1926 ) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @05:51AM (#780064) Homepage Journal
    At the risk of being marked Troll or Flamebait (despite my intentions), I do have to point out something. I don't like what RAMBUS is doing, but the fact that so many companies are reaching settlements seems to indicate that they have some reasonably strong legal footing for these suits.

    That being said, the comment "beat 'em in the courtroom, not in the market" is uncalled for. These laws are often abused, but they do have a valid purpose -- if someone makes money froms something you invent, you deserve to get a piece of the action. The patent laws are designed to ensure this.

    I don't know all the details of RAMBUS' claim, but if they were granted a reasonable and valid patent, then a whole lot of very smart lawyers are settling for a reason: RAMBUS just might be in the right here.

    --

  • ...but I'll bite anyway. You completely missed the point. This isn't about the quality of the hardware, it's about how the courtroom has become the ideal place to beat competitors. Somehow I think you already knew that though.

  • by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @05:49AM (#780066)
    Microsoft is said to have "beaten" other operating systems in the marketplace, so now the DOJ is trying to beat them in the courtroom. And Slashdot approves.

    I'm glad to see that Slashdot is upholding its proud tradition of double standards.

    And before you moderate this post as Troll or Flamebait, keep in mind what I'm trying to say. I'm making a relevant comment on the story headline. The point behind the story is that Rambus is winning in the courtroom, not the marketplace. However, that by itself is not necessarily a bad thing, because alternate OS advocates (i.e. 99% of Slashdot readers) are hoping to use that same courtroom to even out the marketplace for operating systems.
    --

  • I know there are some sketchy things in the background about Rambus and some organization of RAM manufacturer's - but no one in the group was a consumer, everyone had their own big lawyers. Maybe this makes Rambus a little evil, but it was only possible because the other manufacturer's either had bad lawyers, or tried to get away with something.

    As for now, Rambus owns the technology, they don't seem to be in violation of their contracts (or they'd be losing, not winning) and they should have a right to do as they please. THAT'S WHY PEOPLE MAKE NEW STUFF!

    I'm extremely happy Rambus isn't pursuing the SDRAM market (and they don't sound like they will, but maybe they'll change their tune) and instead only the DDRDRAM market. At least you CAN still buy a decent computer cheaply, and they're apparently not even making the DDRDRAM licensing rates terribly ridiculous, or those companies wouldn't be settling so easily.

    Also, they don't seem to be trying to drag out court cases or interfere with technology very much - they're getting a licensing fee for something they own (either through tech or better lawyers) and letting people continue making it and it's STILL going to be a lot cheaper than RDRAM

    That said, don't buy RDRAM, it's completely not worth it and ridiculously expensive. And I completely think Intel should drop RDRAM, etc. And if Rambus ends up only being able to collect their licensing fees and RDRAM dies, I'd be happy.
  • well, as i said earlier, Rambus has their own legal adversity to face. Also, the problem with Microsoft is that they abuse their victory. The legal system exists to curtail abuses, be they civil or criminal. That same system can be used to do other, lesser, more vile things, but that is in itself an abuse that will, hopefully, be ended one day.

    -={(Astynax)}=-
  • You have not taken the time to familiarize yourself with the specifics behind the DOJ's case against Microsoft and RAMBUS's "case" against other RAM makers. They are quite different. Since you do not even begin to analyze the two in any depth beyond the headline and bashing Slashdot, I will call you what you are: a troll. Please go somewhere else &, no, do not respond to this unless you show your understanding of each case by reasoning without using headlines.
  • I wonder how all these settlements are going to affect prices of SDRAM... If I were Rambus, besides expecting to spend an eternity in a lake of fire, I'd charge royalties high enough to inflate the price of SDRAM in order to make the price of RDRAM artificially competitive.

    I really really hope Micron can win this one and put RAMBUS in its place. Either that or we'll see ppl talking about boycotting memory purchases the way it was talked about when ASUS announced "cheating drivers" for 3d games.

  • don't know all the details of RAMBUS' claim, but if they were granted a reasonable and valid patent, then a whole lot of very smart lawyers are settling for a reason: RAMBUS just might be in the right here.

    Right. You don't know all the details. Quite possibly NEC is going to play to Rambus and let Micron fight the war. Should Micron win NEC and all the dramurai will just stop paying royalties, possibly demand refunds. I'm sure Micron wouldn't be taking on Rambus if they didn't feel strongly that they have a case. What we really want to see is Rambus patents declared invalid. With this in mind, I think I'll go wander off and see what I can dig up on how Micron and Infineon are doing.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • The most positive way one can put a spin on it would be to say that Rambus and other companies simultaneously invented some of the same ideas -- but Rambus was smart/cunning enough to get a patent in.

    Remember, under patent law, that it doesn't matter if you didn't even know of the patented technology. It doesn't matter if you thought of it completely on your own. If someone else thought of it before you, you're toast.

    As the second referenced article shows, flaws in the US patent system allow unscrupulous companies to patent things and completely lie about the dates. Firstly, you can claim you invented the thing up to a year before the filing date, and secondly, you can amend your application with stuff you only thought of AFTER the filing date.

    The article asserts that Rambus have done this -- I have no idea whether the allegations are true, but they're certainly possible.
  • Microsoft:
    *manipulated the system every which way but loose in order to increase their advantage.

    Rambus:
    *is attempting to manipulate the system every which way but loose in order to increase their advantage.

    Rambus isn't using the courts at all to get what they want.

    Pay us for using a technique that
    a) you told us about and then we patented
    b) we tricked you into putting into the standard
    c) we were applying for a patent on before you put it into the standard, we knew you were considering it (because, we suggest that you consider it), but we chose not to tell you about our application even though we agreed that we would tell you about the application

    or

    we'll sue you and get US courts to have US Customs agents confiscate everything you ship to the US, and generally have you locked out of one of the largest markets on this planet. How is this not using the court system again?

    Being from the Orient, do I pay up, or take my chances in a foreign court?
  • Rambus don't produce anything. They just license technology.
  • Could it be that NEC and others are just settling now because it's cheap and letting Micron spend the money to fight it out in court? If Micron wins NEC still reaps the benefits without paying for the lawyers.

  • So add NEC to the list of Toshiba, Hitachi and Oki of cowards who have no interest in protecting their customers from rapacious IP firms.

    I for one will not be buying _ANY_ of their memory products. Why should I support them if they won't support me?
  • Well, let's wait before saying that Rambus is "winning" in the courtroom, the article was showing that those who are suing Rambus have a valid point.

    Then again, justice decision are quite unpredictable..
  • Take a look at the NEC press releases. NEC is
    betting on Rambutt making them alot of money.
    You dont think NEC would yeild without getting
    anything back in return. Just like Microsoft giving
    preferential treatment to Companies that join them
    in there attacks on other OSs. This under the table
    hanky-panky is the foundation of Japanese buisness.
    American firms are just now catching on. NEC
    might apeare to be bending over, but I'll bet that
    they are getting allot more then a curtisy reach-
    around in return.
  • Yes, and the browser integration didn't begin until version 4, which was better than Netscape's 4.x products. They didn't integrate 3.x and earlier

    And it began with v4 because, in MS's own words -- the version 4 browsers were a wash. Neither had any superiority, and they had to tie theirs to the OS and use exclusive contracts to get anyone to change from NS (since there was no technical reason to do so).

    Actually, a bunch of people did
    Well, a "bunch" of people weren't very important in the marketplace. let me rephrase -- only a significant minority of the market chose/used it.

    Umm, NT4 had IE2, which nobody used except for downloading IE 3 and above or Netscape 2 and above. Maybe you got 'em confused and that's why you thought nobody used IE3?
    No, I was thinking of Win95 which came with IE3.0 (or was that OEMSR2?). NT with IE2/Mosaic is a truly frightening sight, though.

    The fact that they have the best browser by far is a ringing endorsement of their technology
    The fact that you achieved "best" with no competition (ie, "best of one") is hardly bragging rights.

    What difference does it make how long it took? It didn't take 4 years anyway, seeing as IE4 was already better than Netscape 4, despite Netscape's huge headstart.

    IE4 and NN4 were about even -- MS said so themselves in their arguments for bundling. There was no real superiority either way. It wasn't until 5.0 that you could say IE was demonstrably "better" in a technical sense (and it still has quirks NN doesn't have). Of course, NN5 didn't come out because the company had no resources to keep fighting the battle. "We can do better R&D than a bankrupt company!" Quite a slogan, that.

    Just how had Netscape been "devalued so much" when IE4 first came out? What is it that caused them to release such a shoddy product? Keep in mind that Netscape 4 came out much earlier than IE4 and its integration into Windows

    Netscape hadn't been devalued when IE4 came out -- it was the act of windows (and office) requiring IE4 that devalued the company. Once that happened, investors saw the writing on the wall (and rightly so) that NS would lose, simply because it's unrealistic to expect/demand that users have multiple browsers. If you have one without any choice, few people want to complicate their lives by adding another.

    Technical merits had nothing to do with it (in the 4.0 generation), as MS readily admits -- the reviews were even and their own research showed people unwilling to change for little if any benefit. The only way to force their users to change was, well, to FORCE their users to change.

    Oh wait, you really thought that the DoJ was suing on behalf of the American people? LOL! That's cute.

    Thanks, I think it's cute how everyone thinks it must be a piece of cake to get a federal criminal antitrust lawsuit started. Just takes a phone call from some disgruntled competitor, right? Maybe a few bucks in donations? Right -- the DOJ felt like going up against the most valuable company in the world as a favor to a company that was going bankrupt. Good career move, no doubt, considering MS would be around to give donations a lot longer than NS.

    But please, continue your conspiracy theories. I'm sure it was coincidental that the DOJ had consent decrees with MS before Netscape was ever founded. The fact that the DOJ, Japan, most of Europe, and the FTC all had investigations into MS must have just been a clever setup, because they knew that someday the WWW would be invented and a company would need their help. No problem.

    Why do you think it was that one of the proposed settlements of U.S. vs. MS was that Microsoft would have to bundle Netscape with Windows?

    Uh, because they were the one company that could show a measurable damage? Of course, it wasn't to bundle NN, it was to offer it as a choice on the CD, but regardless it was a pretty lame idea. And the other browsers weren't explicitly in the offer because the other browsers had never been "market competitors". It's the same reason you can't get matching funds from the Federal Election Commission unless you have a certain level of support. Not every nutball who makes a browser has a realistic chance of it being a viable competitor, but if Opera were ever to garner 15% market share then they'd have to be included in the deal, too.

    Opera decided they wanted to make their money based on the quality of their engineers, not the quality of their lawyers.

    Well when MS starts making decisions based on the quality of tech, I'll be the first to sing Kumbaya with you, Zico.

    I'm an investigator. I followed a trail there.
    Q.Tell me what the trail was.
  • I guess I'm "nobody," then.

    From a marketing standpoint, yes -- using IE3 as a browser was unusual.

    Unlike Netscrape, it won't lock up my computer, hose X, or do any of the other nasty things that Netscrape can do

    I understand NN on X is pretty bad, haven't used it much myself. I personally dislike having a browser (IE) that will take Explorer down with it if it crashes. Tie everything together and it's like a house of cards. If NS crashes, then you just have to restart the app, not all of Windows.


    I'm an investigator. I followed a trail there.
    Q.Tell me what the trail was.
  • It's just amazing how this slashdot article was worded and the comments it has provoked. There seems to be a real issue with slashdot's perception of intellectual property right.

    This isn't an attempt by Rambus to win in court instead of the market. Rambus IS an intellectual property company. The filed patents on DDR years ago. They own this I.P. and this is what their ENTIRE business model is based on. They pay hundreds of engineers to sit around all day and design memory technology, they file patents then they license it. They do not make ANY memory. If that's what you do then your entire revenue stream is going to come from your ideas, and your ability to collect royalties from them.

    Now I don't disagree that the patent system is screwed up, especially as it relates to software and companies building roadblocks, but that ain't the fault of Rambus.

    It's Micron who are trying to sue Rambus and win in court instead of the market. They are hoping to cheat them out of the royalties they are due, as if Micron didn't benefit from their own Licenses. It would be unprecedented if Micron won in court over this. They are basically saying Rambus has no right to wholesale technology they invented. Micron are dreaming if they think it's going to work.
  • I don't think folks watching this realize the sheer volume of patents Rambus is garnering or what's going on behind the scenes, the Patents under discussion now were actually filed years ago. It's easy to say something was obvious or not original years after the fact. What the major RAM makers need to worry about is the other patents Rambus throws on the table when negotiations start. They might go into a case thinking they are on solid ground but when Rambus throws their entire patent portfolio into the ring, and in addition the RAM maker realizes that Rambus makes *NO* RAM and cannot therefore be sued for breach of their own I.P. they realize in short order that they are screwed if they take it to a trial. This is what you are seeing and why everyone is caving. Micron is in deep trouble here.
  • You really ought to read the post again?

    Open standards means NOONE files any patents. I have no idea if Rambus truly came up with their idea all by themselves, but that really doesn't matter. This was an agreement of coming up with- and sharing new memory technology. Which means that the companies develop and open up their specs, which Rambus did. Rambus being the bastards they are violated that agreement by patenting their specs afterwards. What they did isn't fair to the other companies at all.

    But everything is good as long as it's legal right?

    - Steeltoe
  • YEAH! I DO KNOW THAT! But what I'm getting at here isn't whether or not it's legal, I'm pointing out the fact that these rectum rangers are arguing over a product that costs more than what it's (supposedly) replacing, AND sucks the shit from a dead cat. See?
  • I'm glad to see that Slashdot is upholding its proud tradition of double standards.

    Not only is Slashdot running under a dual standard system, I fully expect them to have perfected a functional quad standard system by the end of the year.

  • by Dr. Dew ( 219113 ) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @05:58AM (#780086) Homepage

    Seems the most expedient course for a company now that a couple of rivals are getting down into the suit thing; in the meantime, NEC doesn't have to tie up resources. If Rambus wins the suits, NEC's tushies are covered, and if Rambus loses, it's toast anyway by the New Rule Of Business, which requires either R&D or lawyers.

    (if !(tech) & !(legal); then Corp.dead).

    I really liked this one, though:

    "NEC was quick to recognize the potential of Rambus as a technology partner, and we've achieved significant successes as a result of our close partnership"

    Universal Translator:
    "NEC flinched when we showed them the lawsuit we drew up featuring their name."

  • Ignoring any issues related to the Rambus patent case, is there anyone here who thinks RDRAM is (or will be) the techologically superior solution?
  • Y'know, you'd think that - but everytime I think RAMBUS has died - another story pops up about it...

    They must be throwing some big cash bundles at the marketting and legal team to keep the issue alive...
  • Please. It's not a double standard. It's pretty clear that microsoft has broken certain laws, the courts can decide which ones and the penalties.

    On the other side we have rambus, which has proven to be inferior in not only price/performance, but in performance as well. There is also a good amount of evidence that their patents are going to be hard to hold up.

    Given the situations of both cases, I don't find this to be a double standard.
  • Perhaps better known as "protection money..." ;>
  • Actually, most Free Software advocates that I know see the DOJ trial as a non-issue. Free software is already successfully challenging and beating MS on several fronts (apache, linux in the server space, etc) - this would be happening with or without the DOJ case.

    With that said, your comparison makes no sense. Microsoft is getting smacked in the courtroom for breaking the law. These companies are getting sued by rambus over a frivolous patent. You are just trying to post a comment that "goes against the grain" because you know it will get mod'd up (notice the typical "I know this will get mod'd down...")

  • JEDEC didn't make these companies sign an agreement, any sort of anti-NDA? Perhaps if nothing else good comes of this the standards bodies may put some mechanism in place to enforce fair-play, with some sort of legal recourse in the even history gets repeated.
  • And Rambus broke certain laws to get those patents. They filed a patent application in 1990, joined JEDEC in 1992, and made additions to their 1990 patent application (bypassing patents which had already been issued in the interim. When JEDEC decided in 1996 to make DDR SDRAM the next standard, Rambus left without disclosing their patents--a violation of JEDEC's rules*. Now that the DRAM manufacturers are too heavily invested in DDR to create another standard, Rambus is claiming patent infringement.

    *Which, according to precedent, would stand up in court. The month before Rambus left JEDEC, Dell was slapped with a consent decree for not disclosing patents to another standards organization.
  • Under Rambus, you forgot:

    • Abused the Initial Application part of the patent process to retroactively obtain patents on as-yet-undeveloped industry standards.
    • Flagrantly disregarded the patent disclosure statutes of JEDEC in order to gain an unfair advantage over the other members.

    While these actions by themselves aren't examples of "using the courts" directly, using their bogus patents to extract licensing fees from technology they didn't invent seems pretty much like "beat[ing] them in the courtroom" to me.

    This, unfortunately, is a case of confusing a legal issue with a moral one, however. It's fairly easy to observe that immoral actions aren't always illegal, and that moral ones sometimes go against the law.

  • Look, if RAMBUS wants to get any company to sign because it needs the publicity, it can. Just offer good terms. IIRC industry standard royalties are 2%, they wanted more. The companies are smart to sign because they save legal costs, especially if they can get a Most Favored Licencee rate.

    But you can bet that those contracts have the standard escape clause: "if patents are found invalid, agreement void and royalties refunded".

  • Yup. NEC's legal team either figured it would cost less in the long run to pay RAMBUS off this way then fight it out in court, or it's a tacit admission of guilt settled out of court. Either way, NEC comes out of it with pretty much the same reputation, and the vast majority of /. thinks RAMBUS still sucks. :P

    Maybe not the best way to handle things, but these are corporations. They are in the business of making money, not losing it (at least, that's the idea). If RAMBUS can get NEC to pay them royalties because of patent infringements, then they legally have to do so. To not try and sue NEC would fall into the legal morass of failing to enforce patents and copyrights, where you can lose the ability to actually enforce the patents you have.

    Kierthos
  • by ColdGrits ( 204506 ) on Thursday September 14, 2000 @07:18AM (#780097)
    Sadly, I fear you are mistaken.

    You see, RAMBUS are not only claiming patents on Rambus memory, but they are ALSO claiming patents and royalties on ALL memory - SDRAM, DDR-RAM etc!

    So even if no-one buys Rambus RAM, if Rambus get their way they will still received billions in royalties from everyone else.

    This truely sucks.

    Micron, however, are not bending over (unlike all Far Eastern memory manufacturers) - Go Micron! :)
  • because alternate OS advocates (i.e. 99% of Slashdot readers) are hoping to use that same courtroom to even out the marketplace for operating systems.

    This just isn't true. "Alternate OS advocates" are trying to beat Microsoft in the marketplace. That's what Linux is about. While most Slashdot readers dislike Microsoft and would probably like to see them broken up, that's not what people here are banking on.

  • Maybe this makes Rambus a little evil, but it was only possible because the other manufacturer's either had bad lawyers, or tried to get away with something.

    No. What happened was that JEDEC has a policy, prominently announced and shown on viewgraph at each meeting that members must disclose patents pending relating to standards under discussion, and must provide members with reasonable licensing agreements.

    Rambus participated in discussions relating to SDRAM and DDR SDRAM without revealing those patents, and hence they got promulgated as part of a standard.

    The other manufacturers did not "try to get away with something", Rambus did, by leaving JEDEC, and saying - AFTER THEY LEFT - "Oh, you know that standard you just approved? We have the patents!"
  • Hasn't it been set as a precedent in the past that when a patent is unenforced for an extended period of time, and blatlant patent infringement occurs to the point that the patented technology is _THE_ standard for everyone that the patent is struck down, since its maker obviously didn't care about its patents? Look at the fiasco with Compuserve and the GIF format, which is causing headaches all over. Historically, one could also look at film history. Edison patented the motion picture camera technology that was developed under his name (mostly for marketing purposes), but he didn't see money in it so he ignored the camera's use. Once financial profitability came about, he tried to enforce patent, but it didn't work, and all he did was make California really popular (this all originally occurred in New York). Maybe RamBus should get its head out of its ass and develop a new technology and actually enforce its patent...
  • Where would you expect to have this issue resolved, in the standards meetings? Do you believe your competitors (competitors who want to win business from you) would do anything but thank you for handing them the technology you developed?

    They began discussing the design in the last six months that Rambus was attending the meetings. Does anyone here really believe that Rambus was able to go from concept to production, based only on a set of meetings in six months?

    Did they take advantage of the information and a hole in the agreement. Looks like it. And it appears to be a quite a hole since they are winning.

    Will it inflate the price of chips? I am sure we will hear it does. Much like the gas prices skyrocket the day after an oil price increase is announced. $.02 seems to go to $.10 in no time.

  • I think we know why this isn't a double standard. ( Which I agree /. is known for, heh )

    The reason is if we have one comapny in control of the RAM markey, then gee golly they have a monopoly. Why not stop them before they get to dictate the market.

    ----
    You can have any color you want - as long sa it's black.

  • This presents a whole new range of phrases:

    "Oh man, they just got the rambus!"
    "We're gonna rambus those fools, and if they don't like it, they can suck my rambus."
    "Put your rambus in the air, and wave it like you just don't care!"

    Ok, that last one may take some time to catch on.

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