While Rambus has settled in one form or another with most of the major players in the computing industry, one of the remaining holdouts has been NVIDIA. NVIDIA has already lost to Rambus in court over some infringement cases, while cases over other products and patents have been ongoing. As a chipset, SoC, and GPU provider, NVIDIA has a particularly wide exposure to memory-related suits as virtually all of their products contain a memory controller of some kind, giving them ample reason to continue fighting Rambus.

But that fight has finally come to an end. Yesterday Rambus and NVIDIA signed a 5 year licensing agreement, under which NVIDIA gets rights to Rambus's patented technologies, and at the same time both companies drop all outstanding suits aimed at each other. As with other Rambus licensing agreements the specific terms of the deal are private, so how much NVIDIA is paying per the agreement and whether there is a per-product royalty rate attached is unknown.

It's interesting to note though that this comes so soon after two major Rambus losses. In November Rambus lost a major antitrust case against Hynix and Micron, meanwhile in January of this year the United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled that 3 of Rambus's major patents (the Barth patents) were invalid. The Barth patents have been Rambus's biggest weapons, and they were the patents that defeated NVIDIA in the infringement suit that NVIDIA previously lost. Given the timing of this latest settlement, it stands to reason that a weakened Rambus was willing to settle with NVIDIA on far more favorable terms - to the point where it would be cheaper than continuing the suit - but as the terms of the deal are not public we'll never know for sure.

In any case, with NVIDIA finally settling there are now only a few smaller holdouts remaining. The Wall Street Journal names the remaining parties as LSI Corp (storage controllers, including SandForce), MediaTek (SoCs), and STMicro (everything from SoCs to ICs).

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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  • B3an - Thursday, February 9, 2012 - link

    Hi there, i work for Apple.

    You have used the letter "i"' far too much in your comment. Your IP has been tracked and we will be taking you to court. If you are not aware, we invented the letter "i" and own a patent on it.

    @Anand, this site has rounded corners on a few of the buttons. We own a patent on rounded corners. We also invented them. If you remember everything before the 1980's was actually square until we brought forth this original innovation. Please correct these rounded corners within 15 days.
  • retrospooty - Thursday, February 9, 2012 - link

    LOL... Dont for get that Apple also patented the shape of a rectangle, as well as the colors black and white.
  • FITCamaro - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    Apple shouldn't even be able to get people to pay for licensing since most of their patents are invalid to anyone with a clue. Many of their patents have instances of prior art that they just did first on a mobile phone. Doesn't make it their invention though.
  • chizow - Thursday, February 9, 2012 - link

    First the favorable settlement with Intel over chipset licensing/GPU IP and now a presumably favorable settlement with Rambus. That takes care of the two major legal matters Nvidia has dealt with over the last few years and it sounds as if they got more favorable terms in both cases.
  • minijedimaster - Thursday, February 9, 2012 - link

    Why settle at all? RAMBUS deserves nothing but a quick and painful death in the market. I would have appealed all loses in court since their patents were nulled by the Patent office and bankrupted them to oblivion. That way real innovation could continue in the market place without company's worrying about some idiot company coming along and "creating" a patent and suing them.
  • mevans336 - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    ... and this is why you don't run a Fortune 500 company.

    It's not about principles, it's about the dollar.
  • chizow - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    Yeah while I strongly dislike Rambus and their actions over the last decade or so, I think it was smart for Nvidia to just settle at presumably much more favorable terms so they can get back to business as usual.

    Looming litigation and any similar uncertainty is just bad for business, so the sooner they put it behind them the better. Plus it gets expensive. Nvidia is big enough to not get pushed around but unlike Intel with endlessly deep pockets or Rambus that lives in the courtroom, Nvidia would probably prefer to spend its resources on its business rather than on legal bills.
  • Wolfpup - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    Yeah, I totally agree. RAMBUS needs to die, their only real "product" being fraud.

    I'm assuming this is just Nvidia saying "this is cheaper than continuing to fight" even though they're presumably in the right. Bad thing is RAMBUS gets even more money to continue "operations", such as they are.
  • RamarC - Sunday, February 12, 2012 - link

    i know it's old but still appropirate (i can't apropros):

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