Calif. jury rejects Rambus antitrust claims

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California jury denied Rambus Inc. billions of dollars in damages as it determined that chip-makers Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. didn’t conspire to fix prices of memory chips in order to hike the prices of products for which Rambus licenses the rights.

Rambus’ stock sank 61 percent after losing its 7-year-old antitrust case in California Superior Court in San Francisco. Micron’s stock rose 23 percent.

Rambus had argued that Micron and Hynix conspired to fix prices to hurt its business. Rambus, which makes most of its money by licensing its technologies to other companies for use in their products, had been seeking about $4 billion in damages. If the jury had found in favor of the company, the award would have tripled under California law.

The jury determined Wednesday that Micron and Hynix did not conspire among themselves or with Infineon Technologies AG or Samsung Electronics Co. to fix prices and keep Rambus out of the market, as Rambus had alleged.

The jury also found that neither company conspired to harm Rambus’ relationship with Intel Corp., the world’s largest maker of computer chips.

In a statement, Rambus CEO Harold Hughes said the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company is disappointed with the verdict.

“We do not agree with the several rulings that affected how this case was presented to the jury and we are reviewing our options for appeal,” Hughes said.

Micron CEO Steve Appleton said his company is “very pleased” with the outcome. Hynix CEO O.C. Kwon said his company is “grateful” for the decision.

Rambus’ stock fell by $10.93 — more than half — to close Wednesday at $7.11. It regained 19 cents after hours.

Micron’s stock, meanwhile, jumped $1.28, more than 23 percent, to $6.74 in regular trading. It receded 20 cents to $6.54 after hours. Micron is based in Boise, Idaho, while Hynix is in South Korea.

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